Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform; An Empirical Viewpoint

Some people believe that one solution to the problem of rising health care costs is to implement tort reform and place limits on the amount victims of medical malpractice can receive as compensation in medical malpractice lawsuits.  These “damage caps” often place limits on the amount of money patients can receive for non-economic damages.  The idea behind caps on non-economic damages is that if doctors do not have to pay as much money out on medical malpractice cases then insurance premiums will decrease, doctors will not have to give up their medical practices, will not have to run unnecessary tests to protect themselves, or will not have to charge so much for health care.

 

However, in states that have implemented caps on non-economic damages health care costs have not decreased.  For example, in Texas, which has a $250,000 cap, health insurance premiums did not decrease.  Between 2003 and 2010 the average price for insurance premiums for individual and family plans have actually increase.  Additionally, doctors are still running unnecessary and expensive tests even though they no longer have as much to fear from lawsuits.

 

While the number of medical malpractice lawsuits has dropped in Texas, there are just as many mistakes made by doctors and surgeons as before.  Victims are now just not able to get as much compensation for their injury or the cap on damages does not make it possible for a victim to afford to start a lawsuit since non-economic damages is usually how victims pay for their legal representation.  Now the only people who can afford to go through a medical malpractice lawsuit are those who would get enough economic damages to cover the costs.  The burden of the injuries victims suffer due to medical malpractice are no longer borne by the party that caused them but rather by the victim who cannot afford to pay for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

 

In New York there are not any restrictions on the amount a person can from a medical malpractice lawsuit for pain and suffering, lost wages, or any other type of money award.  Should New York decide to place a cap on non-economic damages the results will likely be the same as they are in Texas and the many other states that have similar caps. 

 

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] .  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com. 

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