Broad Study Finds No Impact for Medical Malpractice Damages Caps as Tools to Adjust the Supply of Ph

A new study highlights an irony as to the value (or not) of damages caps in medical malpractice cases as a tool for adjusting the supply of physicians in geographic areas or medical specialities. The new study finds no empiric support for the caps, with high confidence intervals. There is irony in the report because defense side “tort reformers” often are the first and loudest in demanding “proof” through reliable long term epidemiological studies.

The report is online:  Damage Caps and the Labor Supply of Physicians: Evidence from the Third Reform Wave,  Am Law Econ Rev (Fall 2016) 18 (2): 463-505. doi: 10.1093/aler/ahw009 (paywall). the abstract explains:


Nine states adopted caps on non-economic damages during the third medical malpractice reform wave from 2002–05, joining twenty-two other states with caps on non-economic or total damages. We study the effects of these reforms on physician supply. Across a variety of difference-in-differences (DiD), triple differences, and synthetic control methods, in both state- and county-level regressions, we find, with tight confidence intervals, no evidence that cap adoption leads to an increase in total patient care physicians, or in specialties that face high liability risk (with a possible exception for plastic surgeons), or in rural physicians.”

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”


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