Future of Healthcare
Malpractice: Numbers Fall
Lawsuits and insurance rates are down. Do tort law changes deserve the credit.
Jeffery M. Scott, general counsel and senior director of governmental affairs, Florida Medical Association [Photo:Ray Stanyard]
Physician and lawyer advocacy groups attribute the declines to a series of tort law changes that made it harder to win malpractice suits and big settlements.
Jeffery M. Scott, general counsel and senior director of governmental affairs for the Florida Medical Association, says it would be a “gross mischaracterization” to say tort reform has not been successful.
The Florida Insurance Council isn’t so sure. It points out that med-mal rates and cases are down nationally, even in states that haven’t enacted tort reform. Rather, it speculates that the numbers are down because it has become too expensive for many lawyers to pursue med-mal cases.
Debra Henley, acting executive director, Florida Justice Association [Photo: Ray Stanyard]
Linda Quick, president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, says the majority of doctors in Miami-Dade now go bare and, as a result, the practice of defensive medicine hasn’t declined. With doctors knowing their own assets are at risk, “The fear of litigation ... is very pervasive here. You’re going to get every test.” She says a doctor who came from up north said “he was surprised people don’t glow in the dark” from all the testing.