Medical Malpractice Liability Crisis Meets Markets: Stress in Unexpected Places

Publication Date: September 2003

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Robert A. Berenson; Sylvia Kuo; Jessica H. May

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


While the causes of rapidly rising medical malpractice insurance premiums remain contentious and unsettled, the consequences are rippling through communities, threatening to diminish patients' access to care and increase health care costs, with an uncertain impact on quality, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change's (HSC) 2002-03 site visits to 12 nationally representative communities. The severity of malpractice insurance problems varied across communities, with some physicians changing how and where they care for patients. For example, rather than treat patients in their offices, more physicians are referring patients to emergency departments. And many physicians, especially those practicing in high-risk specialties, are unwilling to provide emergency department on-call coverage because of malpractice liability concerns.