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Tort reform is often cited as the potential solution for the rising cost of medical malpractice claims, but a new study suggests that better results come from increasing quality of care.
Researchers from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, IL, examined a single health system’s hospitals in Texas and another in Louisiana. They found that the number of lawsuits dropped in the Texas hospitals after the state implemented medical liability tort reform caps on noneconomic damages in 2003. But lawsuits also decreased at the Louisiana facilities, where the same malpractice caps do not apply. However, the Louisiana hospitals experienced an increase in quality scores, according to the study in the American Journal of Medical Quality.
“A significant correlation was found between the increase in mean Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services performance score and the decrease in the frequency of claims observed in Louisiana,” the researchers reported. “Although tort reform caps on noneconomic damages in Texas caused the largest initial decrease, increasing quality improvement measures without increasing financial burden also decreased liability claims in Louisiana. Uniquely, this study showed that increasing patient quality resulted in decreased medical liability claims.”
An abstract is available at http://tinyurl.com/q6wv3hb.