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Still more evidence that tort “reform” is a scam

Recently, I blogged about a Public Citizen report that documented the ways in which tort “reform”, specifically medical malpractice damage caps, are a scam that has done none of the things its backers promised. You might have read that and thought “sure, but Public Citizen is a lefty group, and so they would never have liked med mal caps to begin with”. If so, then you should know that a researcher at the libertarian Cato Institute just released a paper that came to similar conclusions. Here’s a quote:

When asked how consumers benefit from medical malpractice insurance, industry executives typically mention only patient compensation. Yet much more is at work.

Competition in the market for medical malpractice insurance, and each insurer’s interest in reducing its exposure to malpractice awards, leads insurers to provide oversight that protects consumers from physician negligence. Malpractice underwriters review physicians annually. They evaluate claims histories and investigate loss of hospital privileges, substance abuse, and loss of specialty board certification. They alert the medical community to situations that result in bad outcomes and offer advice on how to reduce such outcomes. The evidence presented here shows that physicians pay a price for putting patients at risk. Carriers reward claims-free physicians and physicians who take part in risk-management activities. The industry provides oversight of risky practitioners, dictates patterns of practice, monitors the introduction of new procedures, imposes policy exclusions for specific activities, and denies coverage in the most egregious cases, precluding affiliations that require insurance.

More broadly, patients derive protection from an interdependent system of physician evaluation, penalties, and oversight that includes hospital and health maintenance organization credentialing and privileging activities, specialty boards, and the medical malpractice insurance industry. Underlying nearly all of these activities is the threat of legal liability for negligent injuries. Reducing physician liability for negligent care by capping court awards, all else equal, will reduce the resources allocated to medical professional liability underwriting and oversight and make many patients worse off. Legislators who see mandatory liability caps as a cost-containment tool should look elsewhere.

So there you have it. And in the irony department, Texas Watch adds this:

The Cato paper is written by Shirley Svorny, an economics professor at Cal State-Northridge and an adjunct scholar at Cato. Her bio reports that she has participated in health policy summits hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

That would be the right wing, tort-“reform”-touting TPPF. Something tells me Professor Svorny will not be invited to share this research at their next meeting.

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2 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    The real issue is that it wasn’t the awards for actual damages caused by doctors that caused malpractice insurance rates to rise, it’s the hundreds or thousands of cases filed in an attempt to extort a few thousand dollars from doctors. Every case filed with no merits, cost the insurers $10,000 or more to defend. That’s the key to reform, making the extortion cases go away.

  2. Cilla Mitchell says:

    Tort reform is a legal weapon used in Texas against Texans ever since Governor Rick Perry signed the 2003 Tort Reform Act. The Tort Reform Act strangled the 7th Amendment which died a slow and unceremonious death. There is no accountability under the law for doctors in this state who are reckless and negligent and leave collateral damage behind because the Texas Medical Board is sleeping with Governor Rick Perry. He appointed half the members on the board, including Dr. Zeitler, who is the board president and under his watch, allowed countless of reckless negligent doctors to inflict untold damage upon the public. Governor Rick Perry also appointed a geologist as a member of the TMB. A geologist! He could have saved money and appointed an animal control specialist. Or, maybe he couldn’t find an animal control specialist who was willing to sacrifice his/her integrity.

    The spokes woman for the Texas Medical Board, Leigh Hopper, writes to family members seeking answers as to what happened to their loved one who died in the care of negligent, homicidal doctors, “We judge doctors guilt by their demeanor.” Their demeanor? Since when has demeanor become the scientific measurement of guilt? She writes letters like this to family members for the tune of about $50,000 a year. This is the amount of money she has accepted to sell her soul to the company store.

    Providing a link to a video which is my documentation of a 17 1/2 hour stay in hell at UTMB, in Galveston. Texas. My husband was rotting and forgotten, without ever receiving the basic standard of care. He did not make it. So, when Governor Rick Perry states medical costs are down in Texas, he is telling the truth. How can costs increase when care is not provided?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT7rxa21_Xo

    Or, Google Cleveland Mark Mitchell, then click on youtube Cleveland Mark Mitchell December 12 1950 – April 26 2008.

    There were two texas nurses who turned in a negligent doctor to the TMB. They almost ended in prison and the doctor almost walked, if it weren’t for the State Board of Nursing who assisted them in their legal issues.

    Providing a link to a retired surgeon’s website showing the injustice the two Texas nurses were put through.

    healthcaresafety.wordpress.com

    In Texas, the citizens have now become enemies of the state and are treated as such. Maybe the enemies of the state will start to take justice into their own hands and live up to the state’s classification of them?

    Thank you for your time,

    Cilla Mitchell

    A Texas nurse and vet