Lawyers see claims dropping, malpractice rates growing

Associated Press
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

While malpractice claims paid in Iowa shrank in 2003, insurance rates paid by doctors continued to grow, according to a study released by the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.
The study found that claims paid in malpractice cases in Iowa in 2003 amounted to $5,650.03 per doctor, down from the $6,904.04 level the previous year.
At the same time, malpractice insurance rates paid by doctors averaged $13,902.63 in 2003, up 13 percent from $12,265.45 in 2002. The data was compiled by Robert Hunter, a prominent insurance actuary who served as Texas insurance commissioner in the 1980s.
"This data shows that there is little or no correlation between medical malpractice lawsuits and what insurers are charging Iowa doctors for medical malpractice insurance," Scott Brown, executive director of the trial lawyers' group, said Tuesday. "Those Iowa lawmakers who are pushing to cap quality of life damages in medical malpractice cases are misdiagnosing the patient."
The Iowa House is set to consider a bill that would cap non-economic damages in malpractice lawsuits at $250,000.
"Capping claims won't reduce premiums, but it will hurt those families who have been devastated by medical negligence," Brown said. "Legislators need to start looking at insurance reform measures to lower medical malpractice insurance costs for Iowa doctors."
Joanne Doroshow, spokeswoman for the Center for Justice and Democracy, said tighter regulation of the insurance industry would better control rising premiums than limiting jury awards, and she rejected suggestions that a flood of lawsuits has caused the problem.
"Most people are not suing," Doroshow said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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