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January 26, 2006



While malpractice lawsuits may not be a problem, isn't the high price of malpractice insurance causing some doctors to leave some areas of the country and go elsewhere?

I think maybe it was obstetricians or pediatricians that were the most effected.


I've seen you cite the statistic that 3-4% of individuals injured by malpractice sue a couple of times. As an attorney, I know that around 50% of cases settle before suit, 90% before final judgment. That would mean that potential malpractice plaintiffs are getting some kind of award well in excess of half the time. I didn't know if the book you're citing from addresses this issue but I'm genuinely curious. I would think that such a fact might change the analysis if not the outcome vis a vis defensive medicine and malpractice premiums.


Marc, it's obstetricians who are most affected.


By "sue" I mean file a claim -- in order to settle a claim has to be filed. Insurance companies and hospitals will absolutely not pay out for any claim that isn't rock solid.

The defensive medicine issue is measured differently, because most doctors truly believe there is a major problem with lawsuits -- telling them the 3% stat doesn't really make a difference. Go here
for more on defensive medicine.


Thanks. I agree it may not matter what the stat is if the perception is that a problem exists.

I must take issue though with your assertion that a claim must be filed to be paid. That's true but it's not the same as saying a lawsuit must be filed. A claim has to be filed with the carrier or a demand letter sent to the doctor. Often doctors don't want to give their carrier an excuse to jack up their rates so they will pay a small claim out of pocket. (Just like when you pay for a fender bender instead of submitting a claim to your auto carrier.) No lawsuit, no insurance claim.

Even where a formal claim is filed with the insurer, it's not true that only "rock solid" claims get paid. Because it costs in the neighborhood of $50,000 to defend a fairly simple medmal claim (and a bad faith denial can subject a defendant to paying the plaintiffs attorney's fees and costs in some states) any _colorable_ claim less than that amount you can almost guarantee will settle for 25-50 cents on the dollar. Again all based on a demand letter from an attorney, without filing suit. There's a reason personal injury/med mal attorneys have nice offices and only go to court 3 or 4 times a year.

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