Stronger Malpractice Laws May Not Prevent Surgical Complications


Publish Date:
January 16, 2017
  • Rapaport, Lisa
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More aggressive malpractice climates don’t necessarily protect patients from surgical complications, a new study suggests

Supporters of medical malpractice laws that make it easier for patients to sue doctors say these protections are necessary to improve care. But in the current study, the risk of litigation didn’t translate into better outcomes, said study leader Dr. Karl Bilimoria, director of the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Still, the results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that tort reforms aren’t associated with better outcomes, said Michelle Mello, a law professor at Stanford University in California who wasn’t involved in the study.

“This study contributes further evidence that liability pressure doesn’t spur doctors to get better results for patients, but neither does adopting reforms to limit liability,” Mello said by email.

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