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Groundbreaking study demonstrates med-mal verdicts not the cause of Texas doctors’ rapid rise in insurance premiums

Analysis comes too late for Texas consumers, but hope remains in Pennsylvania where campaign is under way to take away patient rights

(3/14/2005) - The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) reports that in a groundbreaking analysis performed by the University of Texas, researchers found that large medical malpractice verdicts and settlements were not to blame for a rapid increase in insurance premiums for Texas doctors and hospitals. According to ATLA, the new study finds that despite huge rate increases from insurance companies there is no evidence of a medical malpractice crisis in Texas.  The study, entitled "Stability, Not Crisis: Medical Malpractice Claim Outcomes in Texas, 1988-2002," will be published in the May issue of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

According to ATLA, the four professors concluded the report by saying, "We find no evidence of the medical malpractice crisis that produced headlines over the last several years and led to legal reform in Texas and other states."

Preview of the Study:

ATLA's Summary of the Study:

The Washington Post states that in "[a]nalyzing claims data from 1988 to 2002, the team found little change in the number of claims filed or the total amount paid in damages, when adjusted for population growth and inflation. The total number of claims per physician actually declined from 1995 to 2002, and 80 percent of cases were resolved without payment by the physicians or hospital." ("Malpractice Situation Not Dire, Study Finds," 3/10/05, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22197-2005Mar9.html)

Furthermore, an op-ed by the professors published in the The New York Times says "[t]he medical malpractice system has many problems, but a crisis in claims, payouts and jury verdicts is not among them. Thus, the federal 'solution' that Mr. Bush proposes is both overbroad and directed at the wrong problem."  ("False Diagnosis," 3/10/05, www.nytimes.com/2005/03/10/opinion/10silver.html)

ATLA President Todd A. Smith said: “This study and these articles further undermine the President's claims that our legal system is causing a rapid rise in malpractice premiums.  However, we know well that simply having the facts on our side is not enough.”



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