Lawyers say doctor woes aren't due to lawsuits

Deseret News
Saturday, May 25, 2002

Several Utah attorneys dispute physician claims that malpractice suits are driving medical liability insurance rates so high they are forcing some doctors to relocate, drop aspects of their practice such as obstetrics or leave medicine all together.

And tort reforms proposed by the medical community, they say, won’t solve what both sides describe as flaws in the system.


Dr. Clark Newhall, who is both a physician and an attorney, said the numbers break down like this: Only one in eight cases that might be filed are. Of those, 80 percent settle before the case comes to trial. Of those remaining, physicians win at least three-fourths of the time.


It’s a hard question for the average person to decide, given the dueling nature of the available statistics and reports. Jury Verdict Research, which the physicians site, has reported that jury personal injury awards jumped 44 percent in just one year. The attorneys counter with a 2001 study by the Center for Justice and Democracy that said insurance companies are paying victims of medical negligence on average only $42,697.03, just slightly more than the average payout a decade earlier. And they point out that there are other kinds of personal injury than medical malpractice.

Newhall believes the large increase in malpractice premiums is the result of a natural business cycle. “Insurance in general is going up,” he said. “It’s not a litigation problem.”

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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