Thursday, April 28, 2011
New England Journal of Medicine on Tort Reform
Here is a link to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on medical malpractice tort reform. It concludes, among other things, that the evidence reveals that, with few exceptions, traditional tort reforms have not proved to provide many improvements in as it relates to liability costs. On the other hand, the study also found that caps on noneconomic damages, which limit the amounts that juries may award for pain and suffering, constitute the main exception to the rule. The article claims that other studies have nearly uniformly found that caps are an effective means of reducing the size of indemnity payments. This second finding seems to me to be obvious. I don't think we needed a study for that! If there is a cap, payments will be lower and some cases will not be brought, so, obviously, the size of payments will be lower. The question we should be asking is not whether tort reform reduces how much defendants have to pay. The questions we should be asking is whether it is fair, whether it results in better care, whether it is better for patients and consumers, whether it reduces the overall costs of healthcare and so on. For different views on these and other questions, go to my sections on medical malpractice or tort reform and scroll down to find plenty of articles on the issue.