In more than 30 states throughout the country, victims of medical malpractice are limited in how much compensation they can obtain for non-economic losses, such as compensation for pain and suffering. These limits have come about through tort reform. Now, the Washington Post reports that some lawmakers on the federal level are considering tort reform efforts that could apply nationwide. Unfortunately, depending upon the decision that are made by federal lawmakers, this could result in substantial additional limits on the rights of injured patients and their families.
An Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer can provide assistance to victims in pursuing claims for compensation after harm due to medical negligence, with the goal of recovering the maximum possible compensation. Victims who get hurt should be fully and fairly compensated for all loss, but tort reform efforts can interfere with this by allowing only partial recovery for some of the most damaging losses a victim endures.
Tort Reform Could Hurt Victims of Medical Malpractice in Atlanta
According to the Washington Post, there are many Republicans in the House and Senate who are in favor of nationwide tort reform efforts. Lawmakers who argue that caps on damages should exist generally base their arguments in favor of tort reform on the theory that the risk of disproportionately high verdicts in medical malpractice claims drive up healthcare costs. In other words, these lawmakers believe that overly sympathetic juries are awarding unreasonably large sums of money to victims, thus causing rising healthcare costs due to the high amounts of compensation that must be paid.
The theory is that the high verdicts make malpractice premiums higher, and the cost of paying for this insurance is passed on to healthcare consumers. There is also a theory that the risk of a very costly lawsuit ends up making doctors perform “defensive medicine,” which means unnecessary testing and over-aggressive intervention.
The problem is, the Washington Post suggests that the actual facts do not support this theory. The Post argues that tort reform would not actually help to drive down healthcare costs in the United States. While House Republicans suggest that the costs of “defensive medicine” total as much as $300 billion annually, most studies put this cost at approximately three percent of the $3.2 trillion spent on healthcare spending.
Not only is this amount a very small percentage of total costs, but research also shows that doctors don’t change their behavior when it comes to stronger or weaker laws being put into place related to malpractice claims. Doctors will still order the same types of testing and treatment, despite the fact that some argue doctors are only recommending extra tests and services to protect themselves from malpractice claims.
While there’s little evidence that tort reform helps to bring healthcare costs down, there is evidence to show that tort reform can undermine a victim’s chance to get fair compensation. Victims must get legal help to protect their rights and to work with an advocate who will help fight for a fair damage award.
The Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent patients or their families after a medical mistake. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.