Report blasts malpractice system, System does not deter problems, new study says

West Virginia’s Daily Mail
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

A study by the congressional Joint Economic Committee says the current medical liability system has caused insurance premiums to climb and jeopardized patient access to medical care.

The Joint Economic Committee report is the latest in a series of dueling studies, as both sides in an increasingly heated medical malpractice debate attempt to gain an edge. The American Medical Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce each have released surveys identifying the states with the worst liability climate, West Virginia among them.

Last month, a group working against changes to the liability system tried to debunk some of those claims. "The American Medical Association has failed to disclose information contradicting its allegation that a 'lawsuit crisis' exists in 18 states," said the Center for Justice and Democracy, in its own report.

Legislation capping damage awards, imposing a statute of limitations and curbing lawyers' fees passed the House earlier this spring. But momentum on the bill faltered somewhat after a teenager died in a North Carolina hospital after receiving a heart and lung of an incorrect blood type, leading opponents to argue that the reforms penalize victims. Her family's ability to sue would be limited by the legislation.

The Senate isn't expected to take up a bill until later this year.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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