Doctors Firm On Merits Of Suits

Tampa Tribune
Monday, July 7, 2003

The term “frivolous lawsuit” has become an article of faith among doctors and hospital executives who blame greedy trial lawyers and a jackpot civil court system for sky-high liability insurance premiums.

And the medical community has been successful, with help from the insurance industry, in convincing Florida lawmakers that too many malpractice lawsuits lack merit. 

Using figures from Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, Public Citizen reports that between 1996 and 1999, there were 19,885 “adverse incidents,” or medical errors, reported by state hospitals. But those incidents resulted in only 3,177 malpractice claims, or 16 percent of the total. 

“In light of the fact that 98,000 people die in this country every year in hospitals due to malpractice, and only 1 in 8 files a lawsuit, that tells me there aren't a lot of frivolous lawsuits being filed,” said Joanne Doroshow, founder of a group against tort reform, the Center for Justice & Democracy. 

Doroshow and other critics of the insurance industry say malpractice lawsuits are too expensive and time-consuming to file a case that's not solid.

But Florida insurers insist they routinely settle malpractice lawsuits that lack merit to avoid the risk of a huge jury award. This despite the fact doctors win 7 out of 10 malpractice lawsuits that go to trial.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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