There is no need for "tort reform" when 100,000 patients die each year as a result of medical malpractice and juries tend to side with the doctors anyway!

Juries in medical malpractice cases sympathize with the doctors being sued rather than the patients who are suing them, a law professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia has concluded after analyzing three decades of research on the subject.

There is no evidence to support the propoganda that the tort system amounts to a lottery for injured plaintiffs. If anything, the system is biased against them.

For several years the Bush administration has pushed to reform the tort system, decrying an "epidemic" of frivolous malpractice cases and "runaway" jury verdicts that officials maintained were forcing doctors out of practice and leaving patients without needed medical care.

"The studies reveal that juries treat physicians very favorably, perhaps unfairly so," Peters writes, "and are more likely to defer to the judgment of a physician defendant than other physicians are."

Doctors, he found, win about half of the cases that independent experts who review them believe should result in a plaintiff’s victory. That juries rule in favor of doctors more often than independent medical reviewers do is particularly surprising, Peter says, "given the documented reluctance of physicians to label another physician’s care as negligent."

Overall, injured patients win only about 27 percent of all cases that go to trial — the lowest rate of any category of tort litigation, researchers have found.

There are several reasons for the bias in favor of physician defendants, Peters notes. Among them are the defendants’ superior economic resources and social standing; jurors’ willingness to give a doctor the benefit of the doubt in cases in which the evidence is confusing or complicated; and cultural prohibitions against seeming to profit from injury.

A jury’s lack of medical expertise, Peters says, tends to favor the doctor, not the patient.

"Critics assume that the ‘battle of experts’ frees juries to award unjustified recoveries," he writes. "The data suggest that it is more likely to shelter negligent physicians."

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry has vetoed a tort reform bill that would have changed the way medical malpractice cases were litigated in the state.  Governor Henry said he found the bill unconstitutional and restrictive of citizen’s rights. 

One example he cited was a $300,000 cap on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.  The bill would also restrict punitive damages in several circumstances.  Governor Henry says he will work with lawmakers to address some of his issues with the bill.

Read the article at :  http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2007/04/30/79077.htm

I have been surfing around on the internet today, and was looking at one of David Swanner’s most recent blog posts, where he talks about Stephanie Mencimer’s blog, The Tortelinni.  That led me to a post on there about tort reform and nursing homes.  That got me thinking . . .

This is an issue we deal with a great deal, and that we fight against every day – the idea that "frivolous lawsuits" are increasing insurance premiums for nursing homes to the point that they might have to close their doors.  Never mind the evidence the feds are not providing the oversight needed to prevent abuse and neglect in nursing homes in the first place.  Nevermind the amount of money some nursing homes are making.  Just look at this example.  $959 million in one quarter?!

What no one is talking about is the actual lawsuits being filed against these nursing homes.  What no one thinks about is what if it was your mother, your father, your husband or wife who lived in a nursing home where staff wouldn’t answer the call bell to take them to the bathroom, forcing them to lie in their own feces or urine for hours – add to that pressure sores without bandages, so that urine and feces soak into open wounds.  What no one thinks about is what if your family member was given the wrong medication which led to brain damage or even death?  This is not made up stuff, these are the kinds of cases we see all too often.  Put yourself in that position, and then lets talk about "frivolous lawsuits."

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