Study Sheds Light on the Effectiveness of Medical Liability Reform

By Peter DePaolis

The New England Journal of Medicine released a study on the effectiveness of medical liability reform. The study examined both the perceptions and realities of traditional approaches toward safe and high-quality health care.

Doctors and insurers think malpractice claims are excessive. However, estimates indicate that only two to three percent of patients injured by medical negligence bother to file claims. Only about half of those claimants recover money, and litigation has no bearing on the money awarded about a quarter of the time. Juries award money in nonmeritorious cases or no money in meritorious cases. Most of the time, injured patients do not receive any compensation, despite what doctors say about excessive awards.

Researchers found that the current system does not provide a strong incentive to avoid negligent care, due in part to liability pressure felt by physicians. This liability pressure, coupled with defensive medicine practices, can corrode the doctor-patient relationship. In addition, placing caps on damages may lower premiums and reduce defensive practices, but caps may also reduce the incentive to practice safely and lead to a decreased quality of care.

The study showed that placing limits on attorneys’ fees bears no significant value in terms of liability or reduction in care. It does not reduce the already low amount of claims, nor does it affect malpractice insurance premiums. In addition, limiting attorneys’ fees does not affect physician supply and there was limited evidence that it has any effect on defensive practices.

If you have suffered injuries from medical negligence, contact a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawyer at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis. Ms. Paulette Chapman is an experienced Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney who can help you recover compensation and damages for your pain and suffering.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.