Tort Reform – Limiting a Patient’s Rights – is Unsafe & Unnecessary

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Tort Reform – Limiting a Patient’s Rights – is Unsafe & Unnecessary

Tort Reform Legislation is unsafe, unfair and unnecessary. Limits on what can be awarded for non-economic damages have resulted in insurance companies profiting at the expense of injured patients. Doctors have also been misled by insurance companies to believe that medical malpractice attorneys are to blame for their skyrocketing insurance premiums. Not true!

Tort reform hurts more than it helps. The proponents of tort reform have mainly been doctors and insurance companies. More and more reports have shown that healthcare costs are not increasing due to malpractice claims. As a medical malpractice attorney I am a patient advocate and want to reduce unsafe medical care for all of us. The laws that have been passed to limit patient’s rights are dangerous. So many jurors have been brainwashed into believing the lies that they will go out of their way to find against a patient in medical malpractice litigation. Enough is enough and the truth about “tort deform” must be made crystal clear.

In most states that have passed unfair limits on what can be awarded by a jury at trial the evidence has shown that healthcare costs have actually worsened since caps on damages have been imposed. There are so medical mistakes that occur that go without any accountability because of the amount of money that insurance companies can invest in fighting legitimate claims. The ability of insurance companies to fund a defense to meritorious claims makes it impossible to pursue most claims because the cost of litigation can surpass the potential recovery at trial. Ask yourselves, is that fair to the injured party who is told “I can’t handle your case because it is not big enough”?

While many politicians and commentators hammer away at the idea that medical malpractice litigation is to blame for the country’s skyrocketing healthcare costs, a new report issued by Public Citizen debunks this notion by analyzing healthcare in Texas. There, the imposition of medical liability caps in 2003 – which prevent the most severely injured patients from being fully compensated for damage caused by bad doctors – has not reduced medical costs or curbed the ordering of expensive diagnostic tests. Instead, healthcare is less available and has become more expensive compared to national averages.

Since the cap was implemented, malpractice litigation in Texas has decreased dramatically, but Medicare spending has soared. This contradicts the “defensive medicine” theory, which holds that fear of litigation is to blame for stark increases in healthcare costs. “Despite the sales campaign to promote Texas as an exhibit of the merits of limiting doctors’ liability for mistakes, the real world data tell the opposite story,” said Taylor Lincoln, research director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “Healthcare in Texas has become more expensive and less accessible since the state’s malpractice caps took effect.”

Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, stated “This report shows that the rest of the nation should not hold up Texas as a model. The only winners in Texas are the doctors and the insurance companies.”

Since Texas passed limits on liability damages (to supposedly help all of us!) the following unfair results have occurred:

  1. Per-enrollee Medicare spending in Texas has risen 13 percent faster than the national average;
  2. Medicare spending specifically for outpatient services in Texas has risen 30.7 percent faster than the national average;
  3. Medicare diagnostic testing expenditures in Texas have risen 25.6 percent faster than the national average;
  4. Premiums for private health insurance in Texas have risen faster (51.7 percent) than the national average (50 percent);
  5. The percentage of Texans who lack health insurance has risen to 24.6 percent, solidifying the state’s dubious distinction of having the highest uninsured rate in the country.

Since the caps were imposed, doctors have been held less accountable for their errors. The number of payments made on behalf of Texas doctors to compensate patients for medical errors fell more than 50 percent between 2003 and 2010, and the value of those payments fell by nearly 65 percent, without adjusting for inflation. But insurance companies have not passed on the savings to doctors by decreasing their malpractice insurance premiums to the same percentage, thus proving that the insurance companies are the ultimate winners.

The more you know about the truth the more you should recognize that medical malpractice attorneys are not the enemy. We fight day in and day out to protect injured patients and to provide for their families when unsafe medical care causes harm. Because of the unfair laws many patients are denied access to the courthouse throughout the U.S. and that is just plain wrong!

People interested in learning more about our firm’s legal services, including medical malpractice in Ohio, may ask questions or send us information about a particular case by phone or email. There is no charge for contacting us regarding your inquiry. A member of our medical-legal team will respond within 24 hours.

By David Kulwicki|2019-03-18T22:03:30+00:00October 13th, 2011|Patient Safety|Comments Off on Tort Reform – Limiting a Patient’s Rights – is Unsafe & Unnecessary

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