Medical Malpractice

Nation's Largest Medical Malpractice Insurer Admits Caps Will Not Lower Doctor's Premiums
Medical Malpractice

"The nation's largest medical malpractice insurer, GE Medical Protective, has admitted that medical malpractice caps on damage awards...will not lower physicians' premiums." This revelation, made to the TX Dept of Insurance, was contained in a document submitted by GE Medical Protective to explain why the insurer planned to raise physicians' premiums 19% a mere 6 months after TX enacted caps on medical malpractice awards. In 2003, TX lawmakers passed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage compensation to victims of medical malpractice caps after Medical Protective and other insurers lobbied for the change. According to the Medical Protective filing: "Capping non-economic damages will show loss savings of 1.0 %." The company also notes that a provision in the Texas law allowing for periodic payments of awards would provide a savings of only 1.1%.. The insurer did not even provide its doctors that relief and eventually imposed a rate hike on its physician policyholders."

Democrats Block Malpractice Caps, Thereby Retaining the ONLY Current Deterrent to Killer Medical Errors
Medical Malpractice

According to the Institute of Medicine, medical errors kill at least 44,000 Americans each year and possibly as many as 98,000. This means that more Americans die from medical malpractice each year than from breast cancer, highway accidents, or AIDS. Yet, astoundingly, says the IOM, the medical industry has done little to curb the problem and lags far behind other high-risk industries, such as the airline industry, in its attention to ensuring basic safety. Huge malpractice awards and settlements may hurt the insurance industry, but they send a message to the health care industry: Americans don't want to die for its errors. In California, malpractice caps achieved nothing but increasing insurance industry and insurance lawyers profits. Here's a condensed summary of the 2000 IOM report: "To Err is Human."

Malpractice Caps Lead to Bigger Insurer Profits and MORE Lawyer Costs
Medical Malpractice

You've heard the corporate claim -- caps on malpractice suit claims are needed to keep insurance rates down, because the insurers must pay out such a big percentage of every dollar to VICTIMS of malpractice. They also claim that too much money goes to the victim's "trial lawyers." Well, like all other corporate claims, they're lies. In California, "Malpractice Caps resulted in a smaller fraction of premiums being used to pay claims and a higher percentage devoted to insurer profit and insurance defense lawyer. During the First 12 years of California's Malpractice law, insurers used 68% of doctor premiums to pay for profit, overhead and defense costs. Only 31 cents of every dollar actually paid injured victims' claims. California insurers now spend approximately 35% of every premium dollar fighting claims, while the national average is 21 cents. " So the only winners were the insurers and THEIR lawyers!

GAO Finds No Evidence that Malpractice Suit Costs Justify Insurance Co. Inflation of Premiums
Medical Malpractice

Bush and his GOP corporazis in Congress keep whining that malpractice suits are behind skyrocketing insurance rates. If this is true, why won't insurance companies release the information? "The insurance industry must make public the data it has been hiding for years," says the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights senior consumer advocate Doug Heller. "The GAO did not find that lawmakers should impose liability caps on injured patients; it found that insurers need to make more information available so policymakers can determine what is really going on. Inevitably, insurers will fight to keep the information out of the public's reach, because whenever data is revealed, insurers' case for liability caps falls apart."

Democrats Block White House-Supported Malpractice Bill That Guts Ability to Sue Insurance Companies
Medical Malpractice

WashPost reports: "Senate Democrats succeeded today in blocking White House-supported legislation to limit damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, although Republicans vowed to continue pushing for the measure, either in Congress or as a key issue in next year's elections. The vote was 49-48 in favor of taking up the bill, 11 votes short of the 60 needed to cut off a Democratic filibuster against the bill. No Democrats voted to take up the bill, while two Republicans -- Sens. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) -- broke party ranks to join the Democrats in killing the measure... The GOP proposal, sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), called for a $250,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering, along with a limit on punitive damages of $250,000 or twice the amount of damages for medical expenses, wage loss and other economic costs, whichever is greater. It would also limit attorney fees in such cases."

Study Shows Doctors' Malpractice Rates are Higher in States that Cap Damages
Medical Malpractice

"Time Magazine's June 9, 2003, cover story, 'The Doctor is Out,' contains breaking news confirming what consumer advocates have been saying for years: caps on malpractice damage awards will not result in lower malpractice insurance premiums. According to Time ('A Chastened Insurer'), a study to be published this week by Weiss Ratings, an independent insurance-rating agency in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, found that between 1991 and 2002, states with caps on noneconomic damage awards saw median doctors malpractice insurance premiums rise 48 percent -- a greater increase than in states without caps. In states without caps, median premiums increased only 36 percent. Moreover, according to Weiss, 'median 2002 premiums were about the same' whether or not a state capped damage awards."

Opponents of Malpractice Lawsuits Joke About Wrongful Breast Removals
Medical Malpractice

The State (SC) writes, "Lawmakers and people fighting a cap on malpractice suit verdicts are angry about comments made by a Columbia (SC) doctor about a Wisconsin woman who lost her breasts because of a medical mistake. 'She did not lose her life, and with the plastic surgery, she'll have breast reconstruction better than she had before. It won't be National Geographic, hanging to her knees. It'll be nice, firm breasts,' Dr. Harry J. Metropol told a House Judiciary subcommittee last week. His comments came after cap opponents raised the case of Linda McDougal, who lost her breasts last year after being misdiagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, although she hasn't yet filed a lawsuit herself, she has become a vocal national critic of rules that would limit where people can sue and how much they can collect... Metropol repeated his comments to The (Columbia) State newspaper and denied they were insensitive."