Tort reform does not change emergency room behavior of doctors

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study which shows the effect of so-called tort reform on the behavior of emergency room physicians.  The states of Texas, Georgia and South Carolina passed laws which changed the legal standard for liability from negligence to gross negligence in the emergency room.  In these states, medical personnel cannot be held legally responsible if they provide negligent care.  Only if they were grossly negligent, a much higher legal standard, can doctors be found responsible in those states.

Researchers studied data from 1997-2011 and determined that such “reforms” did not change doctors’ testing behaviors.  They concluded that doctors are less motivated by legal risk than originally thought.  They concluded, “We did not find evidence that these reforms decreased practice intensity, as measured by the rate of the use of advanced imaging, by the rate of hospital admission, or in two of three cases, by average charges. . . . our results in aggregate strongly suggest that these strongly protective laws caused little (if any) change in practice intensity among physicians.”

This study reinforces the argument consistently advocated by McCready Law and other malpractice lawyers, that changing the laws to make it harder to sue doctors is not the answer to the problems in the medical industry.  If you have been harmed by medical malpractice, please contact us at 773-779-9885 for a free consultation.