Tort Reform Is Dead. Now What?

More than a few state Supreme Courts have overturned tort reform laws in the past year. The concept is that everyone is entitled to a trial by jury, and that the courts, not legislature, should decide how much is enough. Oddly enough, the legislative branches are often opposed to tort reform as well. Whether we agree or not is irrelevant. Enough Supreme Courts have spoken that we concur that tort reform certainly in jeopardy.

What’s the next step? Do we just “stay the course,” continue the trend towards increasingly extensive defensive medicine? That is a waste of the physician’s resources as well as the patient’s time and money. The insurance companies can’t care very much for it either, since raising rates to compensate for such costs is easier said than done these days.

In a perfect world, it would be possible for a patient to agree not to sue in exchange for lower rates. As the aforementioned Supreme Court decisions have demonstrated, though, our nation’s courts don’t take kindly to being told they cannot make whatever awards they deem justified. This goes along with the foundational concept that one cannot sign away basic rights. In that case, the physician is left only two choices: Continue to pay in myriad ways, or fight back against the attacks.


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