Tort Reform News

New study shows that the savings from 'tort reform' are mythical
"Frivolous lawsuits" are "a problem that exists mostly in the minds of conservatives and the medical establishment ... defensive medicine accounts for about 2.9% of healthcare spending." Any tort reform that would eliminate defensive medicine "would likely create other costs, such as a rise in medical mistakes generated by the elimination of the oversight exercised by the court system."

"As for 'frivolous lawsuits,' defined as cases that should never have been brought at all, they're a lot rarer than most tort reform advocates admit. Studies have documented that the vast majority of them don't yield a payment to the plaintiff. The converse is a bigger problem -- genuinely injured patients who can't get redress because the courthouse doors have been shut to them."
Click here to read the full column in the Los Angeles Times.

Standing for victims of medical negligence
"Let's find solutions together. Let's learn from the lawsuits and the innocent victims. Let's work to prevent the errors. It is always better to prevent harm than compensate for it. Prevent negligent harm to patients and residents and you've solved the problem on two fronts. You spend less in healthcare costs AND you reduce lawsuits because harm is reduced."
Click here to read the full column in the Louisville Courier Journal.

How Many Die from Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?
"It seems that every time researchers estimate how often a medical mistake contributes to a hospital patient's death, the numbers come out worse. ... the numbers may be much higher -- between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says."
Click here to read the article published by Scientific American.
Click here to read the full study published in the Journal of Patient Safety.

Public Justice: Worst Supreme Court Arbitration Decision Ever
"The decision is catastrophic for the antitrust laws, as well as for civil rights, consumer rights, and many other statutory rights. The decision is an unmitigated disaster, replacing adhesive contracts for an idea of actual law. The drafters of the [Federal Arbitration Act] would not recognize what it has turned into."
Click here to read the complete blog post on the Public Justice website.

Patients pay price for what surgeons leave behind
"Thousands of patients a year leave the nation's operating rooms with surgical items in their bodies. ... Yet 85 percent of hospitals have not adopted readily available technologies that all but eliminate the risk of leaving sponges in patients."
Click here to read the complete article published in the Tennessean.

Losing My Leg to a Medical Error
Despite calls to action by patient advocates and the adoption of safety programs, there is no sign that the numbers of errors, injuries and deaths have improved. Why? Because those responsible for the delivery of health care have been unable to change how they do things.
Click here to read the full column published in the New York Times.

Editorial | Nursing home bill should be killed
The Courier-Journal notes that a state senator introduced legislation infringing on the right to a jury trial in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect, and then called the bill for a vote in her committee before the assembled opponents were allowed to speak. In 2012, Kentucky nursing homes ranked first nationally in total federal fines levied, and "in serious nursing home deficiencies that threaten the safety of residents. ... Meanwhile, the nursing home business, dominated by large corporate chains, is booming, according to stock performance and CEO salaries, which average $3.3 million a year..."
Full editorial published in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Study Finds No Progress in Safety at Hospitals
In "one of the most rigorous efforts to collect data about patient safety since a landmark report in 1999 found that medical mistakes caused as many as 98,000 deaths and more than one million injuries a year in the United States," researchers "found that harm to patients was common and that the number of incidents did not decrease over time"

"The findings were a disappointment but not a surprise... Many of the problems were caused by the hospitals' failure to use measures that had been proved to avert mistakes and to prevent infections from devices like urinary catheters, ventilators and lines inserted into veins and arteries. "
Click here to read the full article from the New York Times

Exposing the Lie of Tort Reform
"Ironically, a study from Americans for Insurance Reform in 2009 found that under Missouri's damages cap, medical malpractice rates actually went up 1 percent, while in neighboring Iowa, which has no damage cap, malpractice premiums dropped 6 percent. ... 'In Missouri the only clear impact has been a drop in the number of claims and lawsuits made and a more profitable malpractice insurance industry, while other indicators remain largely as they were before reform...' "
Click here to read the full article from the Huffington Post
Click here to read the entire study by Americans for Insurance Reform (PDF)

Report: Texas' tort law has failed to reduce health costs, attract doctors
"A national report ... says the 2003 Texas law that limited damage awards in malpractice suits has caused health care spending to rise and has not significantly increased the number of doctors in Texas." (The full report is available at the link just below on this page.)
Click here to read the full article from the Austin American-Statesman

A Failed Experiment: Health Care in Texas Has Worsened in Key Respects Since State Instituted Liability Caps in 2003
A study conducted by Public Citizen reveals that Texas' much-touted 2003 tort reform legislation caused lawsuits to plummet but did nothing to improve the delivery of healthcare, which actually worsened during the same period.
Click here to download the full report from Public Citizen's website.

There's no proof tort reform reduces health costs
"What doctors want isn't reform, it is an exemption. And that's just not how we do things in the United States."
Click here to read the full column from the Houston Chronicle

Changes in Physician Supply and Scope of Practice during a Malpractice Crisis: Evidence from Pennsylvania
A respected journal of health care policy found no evidence of a connection between a supposed medical malpractice crisis and physicians leaving high-risk specialties.
Click here to read the full study from Health Affairs

Suffolk University Law School study finds that most physicians actually pay lower premiums than they did in 1999
A Massachusetts study found that, adjusting for inflation, medical malpractice insurance premiums actually decreased between 1990 and 2008, even though the American Medical Association has declared it a crisis state, debunking the claim that insurance premiums are driven by too many lawsuits.
Click here to read the full story from the Boston Globe

False Alarm: How the media helps the insurance industry and the GOP promote the myth of America's "lawsuit crisis."
Washington Monthly debunks common myths from media reports about lawsuits and tort reform. "The plain fact is, most lawsuits are neither ridiculous nor lucrative. ... the awards are generally quite small and getting smaller."

The State - Malpractice law may deny justice - Lawyers, citing an award limit, often won't take medical injury suits.
Because of damage caps passed in California, many victims with legitimate cases can't get a lawyer to take their case.
Click here to read the full story from the Los Angeles Times

Liability = Responsibility
"The research shows, overwhelmingly, that the real problem is too much malpractice, not too many malpractice lawsuits."
Click here to read the full story from the New York Times

The Growth Of Physician Medical Malpractice Payments: Evidence From The National Practitioner Data Bank
The growth of malpractice payments is less than previously thought. According to records kept by the insurance Industry itself, medical malpractice payments add just $12 per person to the annual cost of health care in the United States, and that number has grown no faster than other increases in the cost of healthcare since 1991.
Click here to read the study

The Myth of the Frivolous Lawsuit
One of the catch phrases of tort reformers is "frivolous lawsuits" - a lawsuit that has no legal basis, or is so petty that the suit isn't justified. But what tort reformers don't tell you is that the legal system already has three safety mechanisms in place to prevent, dismiss, and correct frivolous lawsuits.
Click here to read the full story

What Is Tort Reform - And Why Is It Bad For The Public?
A primer on tort reform and how it results in more harm than good.
Click here to read the full story