Malpractice myths

Albany’s The Times Union
Friday, July 29, 2005

Although it has not received the public attention of such issues as tax and Social Security reform, President Bush's call for tort reform has not gone unnoticed, or unheeded, in the House. Indeed, it's likely lawmakers will support Mr. Bush's prescription for medical malpractice reform before they leave for their August recess. But his remedy - a rigid cap of $250,000 on pain and suffering awards - is the wrong one. 

Mr. Bush isn't alone in favoring caps, of course. They were touted as a solution to New York's medical malpractice crises of the 1970s and 1980s. Then as now, many doctors, and the medical societies that represent them, blamed the high cost of medical malpractice premiums on the growing number of multimillion dollar awards by juries who reacted emotionally to a plaintiff's suffering and disregarded the facts of the cases before them.

But more and more studies call that argument into question. The latest one comes from a New York consumer group, theCenter for Justice and Democracy, which found that while claims paid by the nation's 15 largest malpractice insurers over the last five years had remained stable, premiums had soared 120 percent. The insurance industry counters that premiums must reflect future cost trends and not just the experience of the past five years. Maybe, but 120 percent is an awfully big jump.

 If the House still won't listen to these arguments despite New York's successes, then the Senate - which has rejected caps in the past - must. Caps are the wrong remedy.e.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us