Designing a reliable system of medical justice

The purpose of this project is to develop and build consensus for a fundamental redesign of our current justice system for medical liability. The premise for the project is that the current system of malpractice is dysfunctional at many levels. The vast majority of patients with bad outcomes due to negligence or error go without compensation while providers practicing bad medical care go unquestioned. Providers practicing high-quality care, but whose patients have less than perfect outcomes, are being charged as negligent. Malpractice insurance premiums are spiraling out of control, driven by the uncertainty of claims on cases that go unsettled for many years and which, if brought before a jury, are seemingly random in terms of damages awarded. Physicians claim that the increase in malpractice premiums is driving them out of practice, and fear of litigation may contribute to the practice of defensive medicine and higher costs of care. The litigation mentality that pervades malpractice has created a level of distrust among patients, providers, and the courts, while impeding quality and contributing little to improving patient safety. The tort reforms being proposed (e.g., capping damages) may temporarily stem the increase in malpractice premiums, but do little to get at these underlying issues and may serve to exacerbate them in the long run.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $760,540.00

Awarded on: 10/28/2004

Time frame: 12/1/2004 - 2/15/2009

Grant Number: 51549

Grantee

Harvard University School of Public Health

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA, 02115-6028

617-432-1015
Website

Michelle M. Mello
Project Director

617-432-0217
Email

Most Requested