The Damage Done by the Current Medical Malpractice System

January 18, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


The current state of medical malpractice in the United States is “inconsistent, wasteful, and damaging to physicians and patients,” according to an article in the January 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons. Many patients who are injured by physician negligence never sue, and of those who do, only one in six receive compensation, the authors state. They also argue that the litigation of malpractice claims is so inefficient that patients wait an average of five years to receive compensation, that every dollar of compensation for an injured patient includes 54 cents for lawyers, experts, and court fees. The malpractice system also burdens physicians with high liability insurance fees, which often cause them to practice defensive medicine. Reform efforts on the state level have included caps on noneconomic damages in 35 states; however, 11 states have overturned caps, calling them unconstitutional, and 4 states explicitly prohibit caps.

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