The Insurance Commissioner from the State of Washington has released a fascinating study of malpractice insurance rates for physicians in that state. A news report of the findings says “that the amount doctors pay for malpractice insurance in 2005 is largely equal to or less than what they paid for coverage in 1985 when adjusted for inflation. These findings and others ‘fly in the face of those who claim that something dramatic has changed relating to malpractice suits in Washington,’ said Commissioner Mike Kreidler.”
Claims were also studied: “There were 10,212 closed claims during the period. Of those, 45 claims – less than 1 percent – were decided by a jury. Of those claims, 27 percent resulted in payments to patients. More than 60 percent were for $100,000 or less and less than 2 percent resulted in payments of more than $1 million.”
Here is the study itself.
If the facts matter, the legislative fight on tort reform in the medical field is over. The fight for the hearts and minds of jurors is something else, however. The insurance companies have made a calculated decision: blame the legal system and the worst thing that can happen is that the jury pool is polluted against claimants. It has proven a worthwhile investment.
There is a reason why insurance companies own all the big buildings.