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According to a new report by the Public Citizen, medical malpractice payments in 2011 were at their lowest level on record by almost any measure. This report provides further evidence debunking the argument that medical malpractice payments are to blame for the skyrocketing cost of health care.

The report examined data from the federal government's National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), which tracks malpractice payments on behalf of doctors,according to It turns out the number of medical malpractice payments and the inflation-adjusted value of those payments were at their lowest levels since 1991 (the earliest full year that this type of data was available).

Proponents of drastic tort reform need to take a look at this data and consider re-examining their position. The numbers are quite clear – the issue of “frivolous lawsuits” leading to enormous jury verdicts and settlements is simply not true. In fact, the report shows that medical malpractice payments have fallen for eight consecutive years.

Hopefully this data will help steer the health care reform debate away from the debunked tort reform issue and towards a productive conversation about real ways to tackle our ever-increasing health care costs (e.g., reforming the fee-for-service system, reducing the number of preventable medical errors, removing the antitrust exemption provided to drug companies, and so forth).

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC). The attorneys publish articles and edit the Legal Examiner for the Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Northeast North Carolina regions as pro bono service.


One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Amanda Fleming

    Thanks for posting this Jim. We too are hoping this information will help shape the debate. There are so many obstacles to justice for consumers who are harmed by avoidable mistakes. Caps on Damages add insult to injury.

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