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April 4, 2017

Medical Liability Reform in a New Political Environment

Author Affiliations
  • 1Bipartisan Policy Center, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2017;317(13):1311-1312. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.1405

Many physicians, patients, and other interested parties do not consider the current medical malpractice system to be optimal. For example, it has been estimated that only 2% to 3% of patients who experience a medical error file a malpractice claim (although it is unclear how serious those medical errors were and if they would result in an adjudicated malpractice claim), the mean time from claim initiation to closure is more than 5 years, and nearly 50% of all compensation awarded to patients is consumed by attorney fees and administrative charges.1 With respect to clinicians, the annual risk of having an open malpractice claim has been reported to be 7.4%, and, by age 65 years, most physicians will have been involved in a malpractice claim.1 In addition, the adversarial nature of the current system makes it difficult to improve patient safety and also creates stress for clinicians.