The Truth About “Tort Reform” Effect on Doctor Increase

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are prone to make claims about the effects that medical malpractice “reforms” might have on various aspects of the healthcare industry. Of course, it is assumed that everyone involved has the same goal of ensuring affordable, high-quality, error-free care to all community members. However, disagreements remain about exactly what changes, if any, need to be made to better reach that goal. Unfortunately, misinformation abounds about the effects of claimed “reforms” of the system.

For example, Republican presidential candidate and current Texas governor Rick Perry recently made a claim about the effect of medical malpractice reform in his state while on the campaign trail. Texas enacted changes to its tort law which place caps on the awards that victims of malpractice can receive regardless of what juries decide they are owed. Mr. Perry suggested that one of the effects of caps was a dramatic increase in the number of physicians in the state. He claimed that 21,000 more physicians began practicing in Texas in the nine years since the tort reform specifically because of the change in the law. Mr. Perry said that more than 30 counties that did not have certain types of care in their area now do because of the law change.

One well respected government watchdog group-2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, Politifact-went about actually checking those claims. First, they found that Mr. Perry’s figures were off by about 8,000 physicians. However, an increase in 12,000 physicians is still a welcome figure. But was that increase in any way attributable to the tort reform law? The impartial investigators discovered that it clearly was not.

For one thing, the population of the state went up 20% while the number of doctors increased 24%, meaning that much of the increase was likely just a natural product of population growth. Some so-called reformers may argue that that still represents a slight increase in the influx of doctors as compared to the population. Yet, a look at the doctor growth rate before the tort reform law was enacted shows that doctor rates outgrew population increase rates when compared to the nine years since the law. In other words, there is absolutely zero evidence to suggest that the law had any affect whatsoever on doctor retention.

The Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe strongly in the need to share accurate information about all potential laws that might affect the rights of injury victims in our area. Through our work we have come to understand the vital role that the justice system plays in giving Illinois medical malpractice victims a voice to seek accountability for those who caused them immeasurable harm. In addition an incentive is provided to all those who have the ability to make safety changes at these medical facilities. Those who are seeking to strip malpractice victims of their right to a decision by an impartial jury have much work to do to prove that these changes are in any way necessary. Making generalized and false claims about the effects of reforms are not nearly sufficient.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Impartial Organizers Lining Up Against House Resolution 5

H.R. 5 Medical Malpractice Proposals Shot Down By Committee Testimony

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