Thousands of medical malpractice cases are filed against individual doctors and hospitals each year in the United States. This number has had a serious effect on physicians and surgeons who require insurance protection against such actions. Some believe that medical malpractice tort reform is the only way to curtail this problem, but it is important to understand the pros and cons before new legislation can be created.

Pro: Reform Limits Non-Economic Damages 

Medical malpractice reform would place a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages to patients, which means this would limit the amount they could claim for pain and suffering. This may help keep lawyers’ fees and other court costs under control as well, allowing physicians to recover financially and possibly reduce the number of frivolous or fraudulent cases.

Pro: Reform May Help To Lower Malpractice Insurance Premiums 

Many doctors are concerned with the cost of medical malpractice insurance costs. While overall premium prices have declined in the past decade, this insurance is still quite expensive. In addition, malpractice suits have made coverage difficult to find for some physicians, which leaves them vulnerable to litigation. Reform would seek to lower insurance premiums further nationwide and offer healthcare providers other benefits, including:

  • A wider blanket of coverage options
  • Increased provider options for individual doctors and healthcare facilities
  • Improved access to customized coverage for specialists and surgeons

These positive aspects of reform look tantalizing on paper. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider as well.

Con: Federal Involvement Increases 

Many physicians are not in favor of federal reform because state torts are already in control of medical malpractice laws. Some believe that federal involvement is too intrusive and that new laws may give patients a better foothold when it comes to litigation. As such, this point is a deal breaker for many doctors who are already comfortable with state-driven malpractice laws.

Con: Medical Errors May Increase 

Current state medical malpractice torts require that doctors perform a distinct battery of tests before a surgical pathway is considered. These tests can shed light on certain ailments and lower the risk of malpractice suits. While reform may iron out some issues physicians face, it may also reduce the need for such tests, which in turn might lead to medical errors, such as unnecessary surgery or misdiagnosis of dangerous ailments. Over time, this may drive medical malpractice insurance premium costs back up and make it difficult for doctors and hospitals to find proper coverage.