Medical Liability Strides, and Setbacks
An important editorial in this month’s American Medical News details the recent success medical liability reforms have had at the state level, but shows just how much more work must be done to reform a broken system that does not serve the needs of patients.
In 2011, medical liability reforms and reasonable limits on non-economic damages were upheld by courts in West Virginia and California, ensuring access to quality and affordable medical care.
But unfortunately, courts in Georgia and Illinois struck down similar laws last year, and legal battles are continuing in Missouri and Indiana.
Further increasing health care costs are the expenses physicians face in defending liability claims, which according to a recent AMA study have increased by 63 percent since 2001 to over $47,000. While two-thirds of claims were dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn without any payments to the plaintiff, physicians still paid an average of $26,851 to defend them.
And inaction on fixing our broken medical liability system has taken a much more serious toll on our health care providers. Higher rates of burnout and depression among surgeons are causing shortages of our most critical specialty physicians.
“Indeed, it is the states where reforms have been made,” states the editorial. “Yet the prospect of delivering care under a sound medical liability system should not end at the state line.” The HCLA and Protect Patients Now will continue to push to make longer strides for medical liability reform at the federal level. To read the editorial from American Medical News in full, click here.