A new study published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies has concluded that despite legislation limiting medical malpractice payouts in 2003, there has been no deduction in doctors’ fees between 2002 and 2009.
Texas passed the constitutional amendment limiting medical malpractice awards in an effort to reduce the cost of medical care. Proponents argued that a cap on medical malpractice awards would reduce malpractice lawsuits and insurance costs for doctors, and as a result, would reduce costs to patients and increase access to Texas physicians.
The study was both conducted and funded by researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago, the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Not only did the study reveal that tort reform did not work in Texas, but medical costs may have risen faster in Texas than other states after tort reform. The study found that Medicare spending actually increased since the measure passed.
Many opponents of tort reform argue that capping medical malpractice awards actually limits patients’ rights to legal recourse. While in theory it appears that tort reform could reduce medical costs, in reality reform in Texas had the opposite affect.
While this is a lone study demonstrating how tort reform failed the residents of Texas, that is not to say a solution cannot be found that could reduce medical costs endured by patients as well as protect doctors from frivolous lawsuits.
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