American health care is in crisis because of exploding medical malpractice litigation. Insurance premiums for doctors and malpractice lawsuits are skyrocketing, rendering doctors both afraid and unable to afford to continue to practice medicine. Undeserving victims sue at the drop of a hat, egged on by greedy lawyers, and receive eye-popping awards that insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors themselves struggle to pay. The plaintiffs and lawyers always win; doctors, and the nonlitigious, always lose; and affordable health care is the real victim.
This, according to Tom Baker, is the myth of medical malpractice, and as a reality check he offers The Medical Malpractice Myth, a stunning dismantling of this familiar, but inaccurate, picture of the health care industry. Are there too many medical malpractice suits? No, according to Baker; there is actually a great deal more medical malpractice, with only a fraction of the cases ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Is too much litigation to blame for the malpractice insurance crisis? No, for that we can look to financial trends and competitive behavior in the insurance industry. Are these lawsuits frivolous? Very rarely. Point by point, Baker—a leading authority on insurance and law—pulls together the research that demolishes the myths that have taken hold about medical malpractice and suggests a series of legal reforms that would help doctors manage malpractice insurance while also improving patient safety and medical accountability.
President Bush has made medical malpractice reform a priority in his last term in office, but if history is any indication, legislative reform would only worsen the situation and perpetuate the gross misunderstanding of it. The debate surely will be transformed by The Medical Malpractice Myth, a book aimed squarely at general readers but with radical conclusions that speak to the highest level of domestic policymaking.
“Finally someone has demonstrated how complex this challenge really is. Narrow, facile answers won’t solve the problem.”--Senator Richard J. Durbin, Assistant Democratic Leader, United States Senate
— Senator Richard J. Durbin
“An outstanding accomplishment—accurate, reader-friendly, and highly relevant to the current debate about tort reform. Tom Baker has done a marvelous job confronting existing medical malpractice myths, and, though his proposal for medical liability reform will no doubt meet resistance on a number of fronts, it will certainly provoke discussion.”--Neil Vidmar, Russell M. Robinson II Professor of Law, Duke Law School, and author of Medical Malpractice and the American Jury
— Neil Vidmar
“The Medical Malpractice Myth is a terrific book that succeeds fully in realizing its basic goals of offering an accessible debunking of the medical malpractice myth, redefining the key problems at stake related to medical malpractice, and pointing the way toward more effective and politically appealing reform policies that address the ‘real’ issues. Tom Baker’s work has a far better chance for generating a wide readership and public influence than any other book on the topic.”--Michael McCann, Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship, University of Washington, and coauthor of Distorting the Law
— Michael McCann
Tom Baker is Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and coeditor of Embracing Risk: The Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility, published by the University of Chicago Press. Baker has also worked as a consultant to insurance companies and law firms.