Doctors, Duties, Death and Data: A Critical Review of the Empirical Literature on Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform
31 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2008
In recent years, the issue of medical malpractice has been prominent in political campaigns and state legislative sessions. A number of states - responding to a perceived medical malpractice crisis - have enacted sweeping reforms of the medical malpractice litigation process. Much of this debate, however, has been devoid of reference to hard evidence. Assertions about the existence - or absence - of a malpractice crisis are often made based on anecdotal evidence describing the experience of a particular doctor, patient, or lawyer. Similarly, policy reforms are touted without reference to their demonstrated real-world effects.
This is unfortunate. The importance of the medical malpractice debate cannot be understated. It is also surprising, given the emergence of a strong body of empirical literature on medical malpractice and tort reform, and the availability of a number of data sets applicable to questions that commonly arise in discussions of malpractice litigation and tort reform.
This paper, the Lead Article in a "Medical Malpractice: Emerging Issues & the Effects of Tort Reform" symposium held on the campus of Northern Illinois University in April, 2006, offers a critical literature review of recent work in the area in order to bring the evidence center-stage in the policy debate.
Keywords: Medical Malpractice, Tort Reform, Empirical Legal Studies, Torts
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