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July 29th, 2011

Reasonable Limit on ‘Pain & Suffering’ Awards Working in Mississippi

The latest article by Daniel Fisher, Forbes‘ legal affirs columnist, touts a new study in the current issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology that shows meritless medical malpractice litigation in Mississippi has been reined in considerably by 2003 tort reforms, including the limiting of pain and suffering awards.

Fisher paraphrases the heart of the study: “The steady increase in [malpractice] lawsuits before tort reform exceeded the rise in . . . physician rolls, which was about 3.5% a year. The number of insured [physicians] jumped 14% after reform passed to 2,500 and has since increased to 2,721. So . . . the reduction in lawsuits filed can’t have anything to do with the number of physicians practicing. If tort reform doesn’t explain the lower number of suits, why else are more doctors drawing fewer claims of malpractice? Medicine didn’t suddenly get safer in Mississippi in 2003.”

The reforms also seem to have had a positive impact on Mississippi doctors’ medical malpractice insurance premiums, which “rose more than 10% each year between 2000 and 2004, with a 45% increase in 2003,” before the limits went into effect, observes Fisher.  “Since 2006 they’ve fallen 5% to 20% a year.”

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