In a November 23, 2011 Huffington Post editorial, Shirley Svorny, a Professor of Economics at California State University – Northridge, provided another reason why the federal government should not impose damages caps in medical malpractice cases. Professor Svorny concluded that capping medical malpractice victims’ ability to recover monetary damages from negligent providers “would reduce medical professional liability insurers’ financial incentives to reduce practice risk.” Professor Svorny’s editorial is important, because she is an adjunct professor at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that typically supports Reublican causes. As most readers know, congressional Republicans are the most vocal supporters of limiting victims’ access to the judicial system, and capping damage awards.
According to Professor Svorny, “Much of the protection consumers have against irresponsible and negligent behavior on the part of health care providers hinges on oversight and incentives created by the medical professional liability insurance industry. A nationwide shift to caps could result in more cases of negligence and substandard care.” She explains that instituting damages caps would actually reward negligent physicians, because they would end up paying the same malpractice premiums as those physicians who have never been sued. As it stands now, physicians who have paid at least one jury verdict or settlement usually pay much higher malpractice insurance premiums. In fact, some doctors and other healthcare providers who have paid multiple malpractice claims are unable to get practice privileges at certain institutions. That, in itself, keeps dangerous doctors from harming other patients.
Additionally, Professor Svorny argues that capping medical malpractice damage awards would result in malpractice insurers discontinuing incentives that encourage safe practice habits. For example, some medical liability insurance companies will only provide coverage for doctors with spotless records. Furthermore, almost all insurance companies reduce premiums for those physicians who regularly attend seminars, or take courses, aimed at enhancing patient safety.
Professor Svorny’s editorial is one of the best arguments I have read about the contentious issue of limiting medical malpractice victims’ rights. She clearly explains that our current system is not completely broken, as many people would like you to believe. Moreover, we often hear that the government should not be meddling in our everyday lives by implementing regulations, and that the “markets should works themselves out.” The current system does just that. However, if the current Republican congress were to enact the draconian damages caps like those already in effect in states such as Texas, it would be doing exactly what it is making everyone afraid of – having the government, and not the markets, make the “best” decision for you.
Read Professor Svorny’s entire editorial here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shirley-svorny/medical-malpractice-caps_b_1110097.html
If you believe that you or a loved one may be a medical malpractice victim, contact Kentucky medical malpractice attorney, Seth Gladstein. You may call Seth and Gladstein Law Firm at 502-855-4177. You may also email him at Seth@CommonwealthInjury.com.