Medical Liability

At a time of mounting concerns about health care costs, America’s broken medical liability system stands as a major culprit – raising costs and hampering quality of care for millions. While many states have adopted successful reforms, sky-high medical liability costs remain a significant problem nationally. read more...

In 2010, medical malpractice costs were approximately $29.8 billion.  According to research by Towers Watson, medical malpractice costs have increased at an average annual rate of 9.7 percent since 1975 versus 7.5 percent for all other tort costs.

The costs of medical liability are exacerbated by the filing of meritless lawsuits.  A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that as many as 40 percent of medical malpractice lawsuits they reviewed were groundless, meaning there was no evidence that a medical error was committed or that the patient suffered any injury.  These cases waste court resources and force defendants to expend unnecessary funds to defend themselves – thus increasing the costs of medical liability, and ultimately, healthcare costs generally. 

Further, healthcare costs continue to rise because of the practice of “defensive medicine.”  In response to increasing medical liability risks, doctors are ordering unnecessary tests and procedures as a way to protective themselves from liability.  A 2010 survey by Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers found that 91 percent of physicians believe concerns over malpractice lawsuits result in “defensive medicine.”

And it is not just the cost of healthcare that is affected by medical liability costs – healthcare quality is also impacted.  The availability of some higher-risk medical specialties, such as OB-Gyn physicians, is becoming scarce as a result of high insurance premiums resulting from lawsuits.

According to a 2009 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, the healthcare savings from proposed medical liability reforms, such as caps on non-economic damages and other reforms, would lower healthcare costs by as much as two percent–or about $35 billion per year. 

While Congress has tried to pass meaningful medical liability reform in recent years, many states have successfully lowered their medical costs and increased the availability of care by passing medical liability reforms.

California was a pioneer when in 1975 it passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which placed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and limits on attorney contingency fees. Since its passage, claims in California are settled in one-third less time than in states without caps on non-economic damages. The law has been so successful that plaintiffs’ lawyers are threatening to run a ballot initiative that would obliterate the caps.

Many states have passed reforms modeled after MICRA, perhaps most notably Texas. Facing an extreme shortage of physicians and medical facilities and soaring medical liability costs, Governor Rick Perry signed into law sweeping medical liability reforms in 2003 that placed a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages against doctors and healthcare providers and an overall cap of $500,000 against healthcare facilities. Since Texas passed the reforms, lawsuits against hospitals have decreased by more than two-thirds, and the state added more than 80 practicing obstetricians in one year.

About 30 states have enacted some type of law placing limits on medical malpractice awards:

Alabama, Michigan, Alaska, Minnesota, Colorado, Missouri, Delaware, Montana, Florida, Nebraska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Idaho, New Mexico, Illinois, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Oregon, Maryland, South Dakota, Utah, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington


 

Research

The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players

October 23, 2013 | Authored by a distinguished group of practitioners, this report examines the developing lawsuit "ecosystem" and areas of litigation of most concern to the business community.

The Exclusion Illusion: Fixing a Flawed Health Care Fraud Enforcement System

October 24, 2012 | There are significant problems with current enforcement of anti-fraud statutes. A rational, effective, and fair health care fraud enforcement system should: 1) impose appropriate penalties on companies and individuals who defraud the government and generate appropriate recoveries for the public fisc; 2) afford those who believe they are wrongfully accused a meaningful opportunity to test the government's charges against them; 3) allow the courts to serve as the ultimate arbiter of the facts and the laws that govern the area, providing clear notice of what the law requires; and 4) ensure that companies that provide medicines and medical devices for patients in federal health care programs adopt and operate the most effective corporate integrity systems to minimize future violations.

All Results for Medical Liability

In The News Today - November 6, 2014

November 06, 2014 | Insights

An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell highlights "excessive regulations and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up costs for families and preventing the economy from growing" as one of the top priorities for reform under the newly elected Republican majority in the House and Senate. Read More »

Tags: Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Legal Ethics, Medical Liability, California

Texas Legal Reforms to Play a Part in 'Ebola Lawsuits'?

October 27, 2014 | Insights

The Associated Press today writes about expected litigation from the family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who was initially misdiagnosed but then passed away from Ebola after returning from West Africa. Read More »

Tags: Medical Liability, Texas

Judge Refuses to Toss $9 Billion Verdict in Pharmaceutical Bellwether Case

August 29, 2014 | Insights

In a case that sets the tone for future litigation regarding drugmaker liability, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, Louisiana rejected a bid by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. to toss a $9 billion judgment against over claims that the companies did not properly disclose the cancer risks of their Actos medicine. Read More »

Tags: Medical Liability, Louisiana

The Anti-Vaccine Movement And A Trial Lawyer-Funded Climate Of Fear

Author: Lisa A. Rickard | April 28, 2014 | Insights

The most savvy plaintiffs' lawyers understand that in order to create new fields of litigation, up-front investments are often required. Read More »

Tags: Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Medical Liability

WATCH: Washington Legal Foundation Briefing on Lawsuit-Generating FDA Generics Labeling Proposal

Author: Harold Kim | April 11, 2014 | Insights

The Washington Legal Foundation, in cooperation with the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the American Enterprise Institute, held a media briefing to discuss the consequences of the FDA's proposed generic labeling requirement. Read More »

Tags: Preemption/ Federalism, Medical Liability, Lawsuit Abuse Impact

In the News Today - March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014 | Insights

A judge is scheduled to hear arguments from a number of companies - including Ford and Aetna - to unseal evidence in a case that found lawyers were withholding and manipulating evidence in order to boost asbestos payouts. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Medical Liability, Securities Litigation Reform, California

In the News Today - March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014 | Insights

BP is petitioning the full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a panel's decision that proof of causation isn't required under the terms of the gulf oil spill settlement. Read More »

Tags: Arbitration, Environmental Litigation, Medical Liability, New York

In the News Today - March 14, 2014

March 14, 2014 | Insights

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state's $1 million cap on medical malpractice awards, ruling it violated Florida's equal protection law. Read More »

Tags: Medical Liability, Securities Litigation Reform, Florida

U.S. Chamber: FL Supreme Court Medical Malpractice Ruling Will Make State's Lawsuit Climate Even Worse

March 13, 2014 | Press Release

Harold Kim, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) issued the following statement today on the Florida State Supreme Court's decision in the case of Estate of Michelle Evette McCall v. United States of America concerning the constitutionality of Florida's medical malpractice law. Read More »

Tags: Medical Liability, Florida

In the News Today - November 4, 2013

November 04, 2013 | Insights

As the SEC's whistleblower reward program gains momentum, look for more follow-on securities litigation Kevin LaCroix writes in the D&O Diary. Read More »

Tags: Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Medical Liability

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