Arguments against medical malpractice reform

Health Law Week
Friday, May 20, 2005

Studies report that preventable medical errors cause up to 98,000 deaths each year. However, much of the focus has been on reducing liability for these errors, not on reducing occurrence of fatal errors. Despite so-called tort reform, the rate of occurrence for these types of errors has not gone down, according to Geoff Boehm.
While supporters of tort reform rely on misinformation about the civil justice system, the number of medical malpractice cases and tort filings has dropped over the last decade. Also, while tort reform supporters often claim that medical malpractice cases are "frivolous," they do not back up that claim with empirical evidence or with a definition of "frivolous." Fines against "frivolous" lawsuits, in addition to the contingency fee arrangements by which many personal injury attorneys are paid, effectively work to screen out frivolous lawsuits.
In addition, caps on non-economic damages are not effective against frivolous lawsuits. Supporters of tort reform point out huge rewards in medical malpractice cases and say those cases were frivolous, but those cases usually involve the largest loss to quality of life.
In regard to tort reform supporters' assertions about the effect of medical malpractice suits on the availability of healthcare, studies have found that those assertions are false or exaggerated.

There are no easy solutions to the current healthcare crisis, but relying on caps on non-economic damages will not fix the problem by itself.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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