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We often hear that the reason doctors have to pay so much in medical malpractice insurance premiums is because of "runaway juries" and "soaring malpractice awards." But a recent study by the New York Public Interest Research Group has established that, in New York at least, nothing could be further from the truth. As recently noted in the New York Times:

The New York Public Interest Research Group reviewed 15 years of federal data on medical malpractice payments and concluded that the amount of money paid for malpractice claims in New York has actually fallen in recent years, and that the number of overall claims has remained “remarkably stable.”

The report went on to state that

“The claim being made by the medical lobby that this is a lawsuit crisis is just fear-mongering,” said Blair Horner, legislative director for the research group. “There obviously must be something else going on or the premiums wouldn’t keep going up. And someone’s got to figure out what that is.”

The report also found that contrary to reports, doctors were not fleeing New York State:

Further, the report’s findings also contradict another claim often made by hospital lobbyists and doctors’ advocates: that high malpractice premiums are driving doctors out of the state. In fact, the report states, the number of doctors practicing in New York has grown at a rate more than five times the rate of growth in the state’s population

Hospital and doctor lobbyists responded by stating that the report is wrong with regard to the number of doctors in New York. But, curiously, they did not address the question of the so-called medical malpractice crisis.

It’s funny what happens when groups such as NYPIRG take the time to study the reality of an issue. Thanks to their work, we know that we need not


  1. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    Very good point, it is interesting how each of these studies come out the same. It's important we point that out every time.

  2. Gravatar for Robert Oshel

    Data from NPDB reports for research purposes is freely available for download at Note that the data file does not include information which would identify the physician involved, but statistical information from each report is included. Anyone with statistical software can do their own analysis of malpractice payments by state, by year, by profession, etc.

    Robert Oshel, Ph.D. (retired NPDB Associate Director for Research and Disputes)

  3. Gravatar for Jim O'Hare VP med mal claims
    Jim O'Hare VP med mal claims

    PRI the # 2 NY med mal writer has a negative 43 mil surplus. MLMIC has had their rating drop. $800 mill paid last year on NY claims. Your logic is the same as our improving economy- i.e.- since only 400,000 people lost their jobs last month, things are improving. Injured people should get paid, at least 90% of the indemnity. If 40% of the settlement monies goes to defense and contingency fees, wouldnt med mal be positivly influenced by getting most of the money to the injured parties? The correct answer is against your personal interests. -Consider arbitration, where Dr's get a jury of peers and the money goes to the injured. regards Jim Med mal claims analyst since 1985

  4. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    Edward Amsler, an MLMIC vice president, says his company is concerned about its dwindling reserves as well."We have a surplus of $300 million, but we'd be a lot more comfortable with $1 billion,"

    Seems like you aren't presenting the whole story Mr O'Hare. Also nothing you have posted suggests that it's the Claims that are driving the issue. That was Chris' well written point.

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