Medical malpractice

Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN)
Monday, January 3, 2005

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This quiet county in Illinois has been dubbed the country's number one judicial hellhole. The American Tort Reform Association gave Madison County the distinction for its court system, known to be overly friendly to plaintiffs' lawyers. Reports of multimillion dollar awards and frivolous lawsuits are driving calls for tort reform.
President Bush, in a forum last month, made it a top priority for his second term.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The cost of litigation in America makes it more difficult for us to compete with nations in Europe.
SYLVESTER: Studies show that nearly 74 percent of all tort cases are settled. About 10 percent are dismissed. And only about 3 percent end up going to trial.
But even if a case does not go to trial, tort reform advocates say it's the cost of defending against litigation that's pushing up prices. Doctors' insurance premiums have increased 25 percent since 1993.

SYLVESTER: But consumer advocacy groups say the legal system is not to blame for the high malpractice insurance costs. They say it's the insurance companies trying to increase profits. And they argue tort reform would make it harder to hold companies accountable.
JOANNE DOROSHOW, CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY: Ultimately, society is going to be hurt, because reckless corporations are going to be keeping unsafe products on the market, hospitals are not going to be made safer, and so we're all going to suffer as a result of that.
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