The Effects of Tort Reforms on the Frequency and Severity of Medical Malpractice Claims

A Summary of Research Results

by Patricia Munch Danzon

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This paper, originally presented as testimony before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, reviews the results of three studies on the frequency and severity of medical malpractice claims. The findings of the three studies suggest that caps on awards and collateral source offset have significantly reduced claims severity; and collateral source offset and shorter statutes of repose have significantly reduced claims frequency. The author cautions that, from a public policy perspective, the goal of tort reform should not be simply to reduce the costs of claims and of malpractice insurance. Rather, reforms should be evaluated in the broader context of the fundamental purposes of the tort system, which are deterrence of medical negligence and efficient compensation of its victims.

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