American health care is in crisis because of exploding medical malpractice litigation. Insurance premiums for doctors and malpractice lawsuits are skyrocketing, rendering doctors both afraid and unable to afford to practice medicine. Undeserving victims sue at the drop of a hat, egged on by greedy lawyers, and receive eye-popping awards that insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors themselves struggle to pay. The plaintiffs and lawyers always win; doctors, and the nonlitigious, always lose; and affordable health care is the real victim.
This, according to Tom Baker, is the myth of medical malpractice, and as a reality check he offers The Medical Malpractice Myth, a stunning dismantling of this familiar, but inaccurate, picture of the health care industry. Are there too many medical malpractice suits? No, according to Baker; there is actually too much medical malpractice, with only a fraction of the cases ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Is too much litigation to blame for the malpractice insurance crisis? No, for that we can look to financial trends and competitive behavior in the insurance industry. Point by point, Baker—a leading authority on insurance and law—pulls together the research that demolishes the myths that have taken hold and suggests a series of legal reforms that would help doctors manage malpractice insurance while also improving patient safety and medical accountability.
The Medical Malpractice Myth is a book aimed squarely at general readers but with radical conclusions that speak to the highest level of domestic policymaking.
Tom Baker is Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and coeditor of Embracing Risk: The Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility, published by the University of Chicago Press. Baker has also worked as a consultant to insurance companies and law firms.