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The campaign to slip widespread tort reforms into America’s health care bill is gaining momentum it doesn’t deserve because people are blithely accepting its exaggerations, distortions, and outright lies as fact.

To combat this, the American Association for Justice has just released a report called “Five Myths About Medical Negligence,” which exposes the tort reformers’ media campaign as the propaganda it really is.

Myth #4: Malpractice Claims Drive up Doctors’ Premiums.

Fact: Malpractice claims actually don’t have that much to do with the premiums doctors are paying. When Americans for Insurance Reform (AIR) conducted a study of the relationship between malpractice payouts and doctor premiums, it found that while doctor premiums have increased astronomically in the past few years, there has been no “explosion” in lawsuits, jury awards or legal fees to justify such an increase.

Rather, doctor premiums have been driven up by the economic situation of the insurance industry. When insurance company profits are suffering from declining interest rates and investments, they make up for it by charging more in premiums. This, and not malpractice lawsuits, is the reason doctor premiums have gone up so dramatically in recent years. (And by the way, according to a previous AAJ report, malpractice insurers earn more than 99% of Fortune 500 companies.)

The idea that malpractice lawsuits are unduly clogging the legal system while wasting American taxpayers’ money and driving doctors out of business is simply bogus. On the other hand, medical negligence is very real, and any responsible health care reform bill must find a way to meaningfully address issues of patient safety.

Stay tuned as the week goes on for more myths about tort reform.


  1. Gravatar for Bret Hanna


    This post is spot on. Your readers may find this post which contains specific statistics from Utah interesting:

  2. Gravatar for Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claims
    Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claims

    In what type of insurance do the number of claims not influence the premium? - none. Report a fender bender to Allstate monthly and see what happens to your rates.

    Professional liability companies cant just raise rates without a lengthy application process to the regulators in the State Ins Dept. A very difficult uphill argument. Rates have actually gone down across the board in Fla, mostly due to competition and the result of some mixed tort reform.

    Med mal is a problem in its frequency and how it is handled. There is a better way to get more money to the injured timely. With luck, OI am about to wrap up 2 cases that involve 2003 treatment. These were not in my control. one involves a failure to do a digital rectal exam on a patient w/o a prostate !! The other, we finally got around to deposing the plaintiffs' expert, and he had no criticism of my insured. This is $127k in expenses later. Still cant get a discontinuance. REgards jim

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