Why the Medical Malpractice Crisis Persists Even When Malpractice Insurance Premiums Fall

65 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014 Last revised: 8 May 2015

See all articles by Marc A. Rodwin

Marc A. Rodwin

Suffolk University Law School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Justin Silverman

Independent

David Merfeld

Independent

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

Concerns that medical malpractice premiums continue to grow unabated has led to numerous proposals to change liability rules and reform tort laws. Not only would proposed legislation make lawsuits more difficult for plaintiffs, but the bills do not address the real source of the problems they intend to solve. Premiums are not rising as claimed and even if they were, other factors are contributing to the plight of physicians. But in fact, the claim that malpractice premiums are an unbearable burden for most physicians is myth, not fact.

The first section of this article will examine how this myth began and the proposed legislative remedies it spawned. It will show that junk data has been used to support legislation and it will then introduce more reliable data bearing on these issues. Next, this article will describe other factors that are rarely mentioned but that have important effects on the cost of medical practice and physician income. If doctors are truly closing up shop, it’s not because of malpractice insurance premiums. This article will then examine one AMA-declared “crisis state” to see if there are indeed crises in some selected states, even if there is no crisis nationally. As will be explained, there are not. The study of individual states reveals that there are premium cycles, that recent premium increases reflect these cycles, and that rates will probably fall as they have in the past following an increase. Finally, this article will offer insight into why physicians continue to perceive a crisis despite the data presented and what the future may hold for reform.

Suggested Citation

Rodwin, Marc A. and Silverman, Justin and Merfeld, David, Why the Medical Malpractice Crisis Persists Even When Malpractice Insurance Premiums Fall (2015). Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine, Vol. 25, p. 163, 2015; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 14-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2484015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2484015

Marc A. Rodwin

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.law.suffolk.edu/faculty/directories/faculty.cfm?InstructorID=48

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

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Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Justin Silverman (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available
United States

David Merfeld

Independent ( email )

No Address Available
United States

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