The president, several governors, and most physicians are again calling for reform of the medical malpractice system. Proponents of reform claim that the periodic spikes in medical malpractice insurance premiums are threatening to drive physicians out of practice, and can only be reduced by limitations on malpractice awards and other changes to the current system. Opponents of reform maintain that there is no crisis and that increases in insurance premiums are caused by low returns on investments and other factors internal to the insurance industry, not by unreasonable malpractice settlements.
This Health Policy Discussion presents a new study of medical malpractice outcomes based on fourteen years of experience in Texas. The study's authors argue that settlements are not the main factor driving soaring malpractice premiums. Do their data support this finding? Three experts on medical malpractice—an economist, a lawyer, and an insurance executive— will give their own assessment of the new study and the case for medical malpractice reform.