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Tort Reform Increases the Risk of Medical Negligence

New York is one of just 15 states in which there is no limit on the maximum amount of compensation after an incident of medical malpractice causes damage. However, this does not mean lawmakers have not tried in the past to impose restrictions.

According to Syracuse.com, for example, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed imposing a $250,000 limit on the amount of pain and suffering damages. This capped amount is similar to limits in other states such as California. medical stethoscope 2

A New York medical malpractice lawyer knows proposals to cap damages after incidents of medical negligence are common. Those who believe damages should be capped state  they are in favor of "tort reform," and argue imposing limits would lower healthcare costs for everyone since doctors would no longer need to pay as much for medical malpractice insurance to cover costly claims. The reality, however, is  malpractice damage caps only serve to prevent those who have been harmed by doctors from getting the money they deserve. Furthermore, as the Huffington Post indicates in a recent article, damage caps can actually make healthcare worse for everyone.

Damage Caps Can Make Healthcare Worse

A variety of recent studies have assessed the impact damage caps have on the healthcare field and outcomes for patients. The studies all seem to lead to the conclusion that damage caps are detrimental to patient health without providing the promised benefits. For example:

  • One study assessed the quality of patient care by looking at Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs). PSIs include things like post-operative infections, pneumonia acquired during hospitalization and mistakes made during birth. The researchers found PSIs revealed a dramatic decline in the quality of patient care in situations where medical malpractice damage caps existed to impose limits on physician liability.
  • Another study demonstrates that contrary to popular claims suggesting damage caps lower healthcare costs, instituting these limits on medical malpractice recovery actually raises healthcare expenditures. The New England Journal of Medicine's published study confirmed that the promised savings from damage caps does not materialize even though victim's rights are adversely affected.
  • Yet another study revealed that physician supply is not increased by capping damages, contrary to claims that tort reform could bring more medical professionals to the state. In only one field did the number of physicians in a state increase as a result of damage caps passing: plastic surgery.

These studies seem to call into question the majority of the arguments that are often made by people speaking out in favor of limiting recovery in malpractice cases. The sad fact is tort reform does not reduce the cost of healthcare for consumers, nor does it help consumers to have a wider selection of doctors. Instead, by removing an important deterrent to medical negligence, damage caps end up making the healthcare system worse for all patients. Of course, those who actually were harmed as a result of medical negligence are also prevented from getting the full amount of money that a jury may believe they deserve due to the harm caused by a medical professional they trusted.

For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit http://www.jcreiterlaw.com and schedule a free consultation today.

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