Jury verdicts and other payments to victims of medical malpractice remained stable at the same time a sharp increase in insurance costs for physicians prompted voters in Texas to approve sweeping changes in tort laws, including a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, a new study has found.
Researchers from the University Texas School of Law, the University of Illinois schools of law and medicine and Columbia Law School in New York surveyed comprehensive data compiled over the years by the Texas Department of Insurance. In examining all closed medical malpractice claims from 1988 to 2002, they found that claims rates, payments and jury verdicts were roughly constant after adjusting for inflation and concluded that the premium increases starting in 1999 "were not driven primarily by increases in claims, jury verdicts or payouts."
The medical community has blamed an increase in lawsuits and bigger settlements for the hike in premiums. But the researchers said, "In the future, malpractice reform advocates should consider whether insurance market dynamics are responsible for premium hikes."
The study will be released March 10 and available that day at ssrn.com.