Justinian Lane

Tort System Treats Doctors Better Than Most People Think

Professor Philip Peters at the University of Missouri studied 17 years worth of malpractice filings across various areas of the country, and he came to some interesting conclusions:

  • Negligence matters and plaintiffs rarely win weak cases. Plaintiffs have more success in toss-up cases and have better outcomes in cases with strong evidence of medical negligence.
  • Juries have the ability to recognize weak cases and agree with independent legal experts 80 to 90 percent of the time regarding such cases.
  • Doctors are victorious in 50 percent of the cases that independent legal experts expected plaintiffs to win.  (Emphasis added.)
  • Factors systematically favor medical defendants in the courtroom. Those factors include the defendant's superior resources, the social standing of physicians, social norms against "profiting" by injury and the jury's willingness to give physicians the "benefit of the doubt" when the evidence of negligence is conflicting.
             Source: Juries found to sympathize more with doctors in malpractice cases

The press release I linked to has a bit more about the study, but I'll see if I can't find a copy of the real thing.  Maybe this report will cause  tort "reformers" some bad luck, since this release was issued on Friday the 13th.  Cross posted to

Update: A link to the entire paper can be found at Deliberations. Thanks to Eric Turkewitz for the link.

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Posted at 7:14 PM, Apr 15, 2007 in Medical Malpractice
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If this study is true, it makes the high failure rate of medmal cases foreseeable. It means, the plaintiff bar has scienter of the frivolousness and lack of merit of most of their cases. It means the class of plaintiff bar cult criminals, and the class of the employers of the biased, corrupt, running dog cult criminal lawyers on the bench owe doctors $trillion in compensatory and exemplary damages.

That they have dealt themselves unconscionable immunities from any accountability for their high failure rate, means these judges need to do jailtime, including the cult criminals at the Supreme Court, giving their co-cultists protections no one else has.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 15, 2007 8:04 PM

These studies are interesting but I think they miss the mark. The vast majority of med mal cases are settled and represent a significant part of the overall business of med mal litigation. These cases are those were there is a "potential lawsuit" over a bad outcome and money is expended by both sides. This in no way however addressess why med mal insurance premiums are so high. To look at this it is necessary to focus on the surplus funds that the carriers must have by the formula imposed by federal law. This creates a large fund of money, and thus a business to try to get it.

We need to be looking at insurance reform, this is where the money is that is driving the system.

Posted by: Chris | April 15, 2007 9:08 PM

Considering the fact that doctors are victorious so often, how would you weigh in the reputational affect of being sued? It's fine and dandy that doctors are winning their cases, but they still lose when they are sued.

Posted by: Question | April 16, 2007 4:29 PM

"Doctors are victorious in 50 percent of the cases that independent legal experts expected plaintiffs to win."

That's the headline if the study stands up to scrutiny. Doctors would do worse with medical courts than with juries.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 17, 2007 1:12 AM

"Considering the fact that doctors are victorious so often, how would you weigh in the reputational affect of being sued? It's fine and dandy that doctors are winning their cases, but they still lose when they are sued."

I'd say, "Oh well." Plenty of people have their reputations ruined in civil and criminal cases, not just doctors. Protecting patients is more important than protecting reputations.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 17, 2007 3:04 PM

Justinian: Your, "Oh, well..." remark is impertinent and immature sounding, unless you were sued personally and spent 1000 hours a year for 4 years working to get out of it, fighting not only the cult criminal on the other side, but the cult criminal on your side. You cannot validly say that without having experienced it personally.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 17, 2007 6:20 PM

Protecting patients is more important than protecting reputations

"oh well "Protecting lawyer's pocketbook is most important above everything else . otherwise how will they give the campaign money.

Posted by: Anirban | April 18, 2007 6:47 AM

Richard Jewell experienced something far worse than any doctor has in a medical malpractice case. So too did the kids in the Duke case recently. But protecting the public from real bombers and rapists is more important than protecting the reputations of those who are falsely accused.

And Supremacy, your argument cuts both ways: You can't validly say how traumatic defending oneself in a malpractice suit is unless you've done so. You're not a doctor, are you?

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 18, 2007 3:00 PM

Justinian: I can wait.

As soon as you make any money, you will get sued. I guarantee it. There is some form of Psychic Friends Connection thing going on, or the IRS has mailing lists, or something. As soon as your business or profession turns a profit, there they are, waiting for you, by the dozens, with nuisance suits, frivolous suits, garbage suits.

They will surround you. The customer will sue. The employees will sue. The suppliers will sue. Your relatives, that you didn't know you had, will sue. The people passing by on the sidewalk will sue. Why? Because the lawyer has taught the public to do so.

It is then, you will seek me out. You will ask, what can be done to stop this relentless onslaught of sleazeballs and criminals destroying my business, the public I serve, and the livelihoods of my employees? I will reply, nothing, absolutely nothing. Close your business, if you do not want to litigate dozens of cases simultaneously.

You will ask, there has to be something? I will reply, they have dealt themselves the Absolute Immunity of the King, the self-styled, Voice of God. That is correct, immunities stem from religious doctrines that violate the Establishment Clause. They are the Criminal Cult Enterprise that controls the three branches of government. The sole remedy is in self-help. And good luck to you on that, since I don't perceive you as a self-help type.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 18, 2007 5:37 PM

Justinian cited a bunch of criminal cases which is an altogether different arm of our justice system now
Let’s get clear, what happened to these cases. At least there was some vindication for Jewell →

In the form of law-suits →
1. Richard Jewell v. NBC → network agreed to pay Jewell $500,000
2. Richard Jewell v. New York Post → Sued for $15 million
3. Richard Jewell v. Cox Enterprises → Suit pending (Any one know the latest?)

At least the gem from Janet Reno → “"I'm very sorry it happened. I think we owe him an apology. I regret the leak." → this however didn’t stop Jewell (and rightfully so) to castigate her in Saturday night live

The final vindication came on August 1, 2006, when Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue honored Jewell for his rescue efforts during the attack

At least some good deeds went unpunished (can we say celebrated) for Jewell

Duke Lacrosse case →
1. Nifong as latest , The true villain of Duke lacrosse case , has become a Pariah,
a. He has been served two sets of ethics charges from North Carolina State Bar.
b. And is facing the same media scrutiny and presumption of guilt to which he wrongfully subjected the three lacrosse players

Happy with it? I’m not, some amount of jail time perhaps, but there was vindication at the end

In a criminal case We all know the stakes are quite high and state being the involved party , can wield the same power as it musters, to do armed robbery (read taxing) , abduct and confine us (oh so nice jails) or even murder (read Death Penalty). As a contract of having government we‘ve accorded these powers to them and cases like Duke, illustrates, for incompetence we don’t even spare those holy cows. As you can say the road to Guantanomo sometimes meets our conscience

But in a civil case, the power is money and the money is power. It all depends on who sues fast and who sues whom and if it is economically sustainable to sue (not even considering the pro-se),but it is a fact that in this country one is protected from any risks you might think exist in bringing a lawsuit against another individual. And you can vindicate yourself by forcing your enemy to part with quite a bit of money, even if you don’t win. Perhaps those who are frequent defendant don’t like the idea very much and see themselves as lambs for slaughter, or overreact from time to time in search for vindication when they can’t even fathom the maze around them. So what is left for them is desperation.

Is this country better because of it? perhaps , only future will tell. Are lawyers well-off ?absolutely.

Posted by: Anirban | April 19, 2007 12:46 PM