The American Medical News did a nice piece on tort reform. I highly recommend you take a look. Here are the highlights:
- The good news: California’s $250,000 noneconomic damages cap was upheld by an appellate court in September 2011. West Virginia’s cap of the same amount was declared constitutional by the state’s high court in June 2011.
- The bad news: In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court found that state’s $350,000 cap unconstitutional, and the Illinois Supreme Court did the same with the Illinois cap of $500,000. Legal challenges are being waged in Missouri, Indiana and elsewhere.
- The average expense to defend against a medical liability claim in 2010 was $47,158. That’s a 63% increase from 2001.
- The average expense payments have increased by 43% since 2005.
- About two in three claims against doctors were dropped, dismissed or withdrawn without payment in 2010, but expenses handling even those dead-end claims average $26,851.
- Payments on claims have remained stable, but a small fraction account for a disproportionate share of those payments. Payouts of at least $1 million accounted for 34% of total payments — a figure the report said underscores the need for caps on noneconomic damages to contain health care costs and premiums.
- Even with improvements in the market, the report shows that many states still have unacceptably high premiums. For example, premiums for obstetrician-gynecologists in some areas of New York hit $206,913 in 2011, a 41% increase from 2004.
- On a national scale, 55% of premiums held steady in 2011, while 15% increased and 30% decreased. The trend of stable rates has held for six straight years.
- Surgeons who were sued had a 7% higher rate of burnout and a 10% higher rate of experiencing symptoms of depression than those not sued during the two years examined, said a study in the November 2011 Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
Obamacare has done nothing to really help this. Debate all you want but without tort reform there can be no single payer system, no government healthcare system and no socialized healthcare in any manner.