A lot of misinformation is being spread about malpractice and the need for tort reform to protect doctors. Some of the popular myths are that patients file frivolous claims, that the threat of malpractice is driving doctors away from the practice, and that malpractice claims drive up the cost of health care. In Wisconsin, there is a special law that protects doctors, providing special rules on damages and on who pays them. All medical negligence claims must be brought under chapter 655. As this article will show the popular myths have no validity, and doctors are well taken care of here.
Myth 1: There are too many malpractice lawsuits
Only 1 out of 8 people injured by malpractice ever file a lawsuit. Harvard University conducted a study that found 97% of malpractice claims were meritorious. Over the last decade, filings have decreased by 8%. This is not the picture of a tort system out of control.
Myth 2: Malpractice claims drive doctors away
Doctors in Wisconsin are protected by the patients compensation fund. In 2007, the fund had a balance of over $800 million. The fund pays any malpractice judgment or settlement in excess of a million dollars. The American Medical Association reports the number of doctors keeps increasing at a rate faster than the population growth. There were four states that had a decrease in the number of doctors. Each of these states has a malpractice cap.
Myth 3: Malpractice claims drive up health care costs
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the total spent on malpractice claims was 0.3% of health care costs in the United States. The Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office reached the same conclusion.
Medical malpractice can have catastrophic consequences for the injured party. There needs to be access to the courts for these people. The tort system provides that access and provides all participants the opportunity to have their case decided by a jury.