The American Tort Reform Foundation’s Judicial Hellholes recently posted some very astonishing numbers highlighting the states with the highest medical lawsuit payouts in the nation. Not surprisingly, New York took the lead with over double the amount spent then its nearest competitor Pennsylvania. A staggering $677,866,050 was paid out for medical malpractice litigation in NY during 2011.
Are New York’s doctors the worst in the nation? Absolutely not – in fact, they are among the best. The real issue lies with our civil justice system. A series of studies of closed claims by the Harvard School of Public Health found that more than half of medical malpractice claims were either “frivolous” or of “uncertain merit. ” Equally troubling, almost a quarter of frivolous suits received compensation, while those of uncertain merit received compensation more than half the time.
The evidence is clear – New York pays out the highest amount in claims in the nation because our laws incentivize the filing of meritless suits, and because the cost of defending such claims often exceeds the settlement sought. Doctors know firsthand just how bad the situation has become – according to a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, nine in ten physicians admit to ordering unnecessary tests or procedures to protect them from lawsuits. Nationwide, this practice costs $60 billion annually. New Yorkers pay for this through increased costs of medical services and higher insurance premiums. For years, the American Medical Association has identified New York as a “crisis state” because of out of control lawsuits. The latest data confirms that our medical liability system is unsustainable – we must enact meaningful medical malpractice reform.