Over the last few years, several states have implemented tort reform and medical malpractice reform, the notion being that these restrictions would curb the rising costs of medical care. A recent article by Forbes writer, Steve Cohen dispels this myth.
Cohen cites a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine that looked into states with major tort reform in medicine. It examined 3.8 million emergency department visits at 1166 hospitals in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina from 1996 to 2012 and found no correlation to lower costs for patients.
“What they found was that doctors in the tort-reform states – who were virtually immune to malpractice suits – prescribed just as many MRIs and CAT scans as doctors in the control states. Removing the risk of getting sued didn’t change doctor behavior.”
According to Cohen, “Sadly, the tort reformer’s success has had one unintended consequence that hurts everyone: they have slowed down progress in patient safety initiatives.”
He notes that the best documented example of this is in the field of anesthesia where major improvements in procedures and monitoring came as a result of large malpractice verdicts against the specialty. Cohen says that other specialties feel less pressure to push these kinds of reforms since tort reform legislation was put in place.
Tort reform has not made a difference in decreasing costs for medical care, hinders the progress of patient safety initiatives, and in many ways makes it increasingly difficult for victims to seek compensation and recourse for medical negligence. While insurance companies are seeing higher profits, those injured are not able to seek justice.
The attorneys at Yarborough Applegate, are familiar with today’s tough political climate for fighting malpractice cases and have experience successfully representing clients in South Carolina. If you or a loved one has received injuries while in the care of a medical facility, contact the attorneys at Yarborough Applegate.