Congress misdiagnoses the malpractice crisis

The Roanoke Times
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Despite a rash of recent studies showing that medical malpractice plays an insignificant role in rising medical costs and that malpractice insurance premiums bear little relation to the number or severity of malpractice claims, the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to pass a bill to restrict lawsuits against incompetent doctors.
Should they listen to the well-heeled insurance lobby, House members would make a profound misdiagnosis. The bill would grant the insurance industry a long-sought national $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in malpractice lawsuits. The industry has won similar caps in many states - generally without the promised reduction in malpractice premiums.

Several recent studies contradict virtually every major point of those who want to make it harder to sue negligent doctors.
There has been no surge in malpractice payouts to justify the increase in malpractice insurance premiums. According to a recently released study by the Center for Justice and Democracy, net payouts have not increased in the last five years, while net premiums have gone up 120 percent.
A group of law professors studied the situation in Texas and came to similar conclusions: Adjusted for inflation and a rising population, the number and size of claims in Texas remained stable between 1988 and 2002, although rates rose tremendously.
Two Duke University professors found that the raw number of malpractice claims filed in Florida remained stable between 1990 and 2003, even as the population grew by nearly 25 percent.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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