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On the Issue of Medical Malpractice Reform

Article By Bob Johnson in Helpful Articles


As many of you probably know, medical malpractice reform is a topic batted around by politicians during election season. Both parties go back and forth about whether the cost of healthcare is increased because of lawsuits. While I usually do not like entering the political arena, my opinion is that medical malpractice reform (or tort reform in general) is not a political issue. 

Why do I say this?  In my opinion, there are two reasons. The empirical data supports my opinion and the jury system.

Just last month, the venerated New England Journal of Medicine published a study called The Effect of Malpractice Reform on Emergency Department Care. This study looked at three different states (Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina) which enacted drastic medical malpractice and tort reform measures in 2003 and 2005. This study compared patient-level outcomes, before and after legislation, in reform states and in control states. It concluded, “Legislation that substantially changed the malpractice standard for emergency physicians in three states had little effect on the intensity of practice, as measured by imaging rates, average charges, or hospital admission rates.” 

This study is not the first study to reach this conclusion regarding medical malpractice reform (or tort reform in general). However, it is the latest and from a very reliable source.

Finally, our jury system. It is the best system in the world. Our jury system is the free market system in action.  Juries allow money to plaintiffs who deserve to be compensated because there was malpractice, and juries do not allow money to plaintiffs where the doctors and hospitals have provided reasonable care despite a bad outcome.  In the end, the jury does the work of the politicians’ “reforms.”  In my opinion, it is best to leave it alone and let the jury decide, not the politicians.