Medical associations have been telling state legislators (and the public in general) that unless America curbs the right of patients to file medical malpractice cases, all of the doctors are just going to pack up their medical bags and stethoscopes and quit.
I have always felt this was “baloney” as I do not see doctors either quitting their medical practice or moving to states with restrictive damage caps. Now I’ve got some evidence.
The American Medical Association’s(AMA) recently released “Physician Characteristics and Distribution” report provides the following interesting findings:
1. The number of physicians in the United States grew steadily during the decade between 1998 and 2007, from 765,922 to 941,304.
2. The increase was evident in every state and doubled the number of doctors per capita since the 1960s.
3. The specialties with the highest liability risk actually attracted more practitioners in recent years. The numbers of neurosurgeons, obstetricians/gynecologists, and emergency department doctors all increased nationally over the past five years.
This AMA report reinforces research from The Commonwealth Fund and the American College of Emergency Physicians, which found health-care quality and patient safety are far worse in states that have eliminated accountability through tort reform measures.
My Take: The insurance industry (primarily the malpractice liability insurance carriers) is the source of all the tales about doctors closing shop due to fears over liability. Why? To justify outrageous premiums and to push state legislatures into limiting permissible damages to those seriously injured by medical negligence…and thereby increasing the insurance company’s profits/