Study debunks arguments for “one size fits all” cap on malpractice damages

In a report published by the Cato Institute’s magazine Regulation, professors Katherine Baicker of Dartmouth College and Amitabh Chandra of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University studied the impact of medical malpractice payments on medical liability insurance premiums, size of the physician workforce, and the use of “defensive” medicine. In each category, the researchers found little or no relationship between the level of medical malpractice payments and the measures used by the insurance industry to promote limits on individual rights. The report found that:
– There is no significant relationship between increases in medical malpractice payments and medical liability insurance premiums. “We find that when the number or size of malpractice payments rises, there is very little accompanying increase in the malpractice premiums paid by physicians.”
– There is little evidence to suggest that malpractice payments lead to a loss of physicians. “… [T]here is little evidence of a mass exodus of physicians in response to increases in malpractice liability.”
– There is no clear pattern of increased health care spending in states with higher or more frequent malpractice payments. “Ö [W]e find little evidence that malpractice payments are driving the dramatic increase in overall health care expenditures.”
Since the passage of Senate Bill 3 one year ago, Georgia has experienced the same patterns as those outlined in the Baicker-Chandra report. Malpractice insurance premiums remain high, underserved areas are still underserved, and there has been no relief in the cost of health care for Georgia families.
Patient and physician backlash is causing lawmakers across the country to reconsider anti-patient laws like the one passed in Georgia and similar states. In fact, Georgia lawmakers are already considering an overhaul of the Emergency Room immunity provision of Senate Bill 3 that set up “accountability-free zones” in ERs across the state. Last July, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional that state’s arbitrary, one-size-fits all cap of $350,000 – similar to a provision of Georgia’s new law.

The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).