Tort Reform

The insurance industry and corporate interests have worked for decades to sell the story of “tort reform,” the idea that “frivolous lawsuits” and the high cost of health care can only be stopped by limiting people’s right to sue for damages. In the area of medical malpractice, the insurance industry has claimed that doctors’ fear of getting sued led them to practice “defensive medicine,” ordering expensive and unnecessary tests, which drove up health care costs. The solution proposed by insurers was caps on lawsuit damages, and other restrictions on the right to sue. A major study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms what multiple other studies have shown: tort reform has had no impact on defensive medicine. There has also been little impact on malpractice insurance premiums.