Medical Malpractice Payout Trends 1991 ─ 2004:
Evidence Shows Lawsuits Haven’t Caused Doctors’ Insurance Woes

To read the full report, click here. [PDF]
For the press release,  click here.

As doctors descend on Washington April 20, to urge limits on damages their patients can recover for medical negligence, the latest national data on physician malpractice payments shows there is no evidence that the spike in some doctors’ insurance rates is due to lawsuits and patients seeking compensation in the legal system. This can be seen in two major ways, based on a Public Citizen analysis of information from the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB):

  • Activity on the Decline: Measures such as the number, and total value, of malpractice payouts to patients have been flat since 1991 and show a significant decline since 2001, when the so-called “crisis” began. Yet doctors and their insurers continue to complain of a malpractice liability system out of control.
  • The System is Working: The medical liability system is not one of “jackpot” justice, in which patients go to court and score big awards based on flimsy claims. Instead, evidence shows that the system is working as designed: Those with minor injuries receive little compensation, while the great bulk of malpractice awards are for cases involving major, debilitating injuries – or death. This is the first year such information on the degree of patient harm is available from the NPDB, and it directly challenges the signature refrain of those seeking to limit recovery for damages.
To read the full report, click here. [PDF]