Is There a Crisis in Medical Malpractice?
New Evidence from Texas

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.

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About the Author

 

John E.
Calfee
  • Economist John E. Calfee (1941-2011) studied the pharmaceutical industry and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the economics of tobacco, tort liability, and patents. He previously worked at the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Economics. He had also taught marketing and consumer behavior at the business schools of the University of Maryland at College Park and Boston University. While Mr. Calfee's writings are mostly on pharmaceutical markets and FDA regulation, his academic articles and opinion pieces covered a variety of topics, from patent law and tort liability to advertising and consumer information. His books include Prices, Markets, and the Pharmaceutical Revolution (AEI Press, 2000) and Biotechnology and the Patent System (AEI Press, 2007). Mr. Calfee wrote regularly for AEI's Health Policy Outlook series. He testified before Congress and federal agencies on various topics, including alcohol advertising; biodefense vaccine research; international drug prices; and FDA oversight of drug safety.

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