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Cost of malpractice insurance steady or falling

New numbers from the Medical Liability Monitor show that 94 percent of medical malpractice insurance premiums have remained steady or dropped. Maggie Mertens over at NPR’s Shots Health Blog observes that the timing of this release is bad news for efforts to slip “tort reform” into the federal health care package.

No doubt it will be (and should be) tough to muster the political will to “rein in” costs that have remained constant or dropped for more than four years. Our recent report showed that the number of malpractice payments from medical providers to patients have fallen to a record low. If doctors’ liability insurance costs and medical malpractice payouts are both falling, Congress should be asking who the losers are in this system. Hint: It’s not the medical or insurance industries.

Between three and seven Americans die from medical errors for every one who receives a payment for any malpractice claim. The fact of the matter is it’s the medical errors that need to be reined in, not the claims. Congress should avoid the “tort reform” distractions and focus on real solutions to real problems, such as the decline of patient safety. Maybe if Congress sought to eliminate the epidemic of medical errors through simple important safety measures, then everyone would benefit.