Bush pushes for limit to medical malpractice awardsBMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7484.164-b (Published 20 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:164
All rapid responses
To the Editor:
President Bush went into "judicial hellhole" country to call for tort
reform, which is designed to assure the lowering of medical malpractice
insurance rates. Before making this claim, he should have noted what
happened in Mississippi where five counties were listed on the American
Tort Reform Association's "judicial hellhole" list.
After tort reform was effected in Mississippi, Dr. Keith Goodfellow
said that skyrocketing malpractice rates are forcing him to give up part
of the practice he loves. I can't think he is the only Mississippi doctor
to find that tort reformers' promises now have a hollow ring.
When Mississippi placed a cap on pain and suffering awards, it joined
other states that have done so on the "medical malpractice victims
hellhole" list. Medical malpractice creates victims. Then tort reformers
seek to make them victims once more by denying them a basic constitutional
right: that a jury decides what recompense for their injury is
Tort reformers, who surely know better, persist in promoting
California as their poster boy. That poster boy didn't have staying power.
Note the following: Doctors' premiums increased by 450 percent during the
thirteen years after medical liability caps in California were imposed and
only declined after voters enacted comprehensive insurance industry reform
and rate regulation of insurance companies, known as Proposition 103.
With appalling insensitivity, tort reformers, most notably the
President, add insult to injury by referring to medical malpractice
lawsuits as frivolous. That is outrageous. I am insulted on behalf of
people dear to me whose lawsuits were not frivolous.
Obviously, Bush isn't going to stop promoting the myth of tort
reform. Legislators in Illinois and in Congress should look beyond
rhetoric and support the interests of victims of medical malpractice, not
the interests of insurance companies and bad doctors who are the only
beneficiaries of tort reform.
Competing interests: No competing interests