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Stronger malpractice laws may not protect patients


Oregon patients who have been harmed by surgical errors may be interested to learn that stronger malpractice laws may not protect people like them. According to a study, such legislative efforts may actually lead to defensive medicine practices like ordering unnecessary tests in an attempt to avoid medical malpractice lawsuits.

Supporters of stronger medical malpractice laws argue that the protections are necessary to help patients who were harmed file medical malpractice claims. However, the results of the study found that the patients’ risk of surgical complications was not reduced by larger malpractice awards. Surprisingly, states where there were more aggressive medical malpractice laws in place actually showed that patients were more likely to develop life-threatening complications, including sepsis.

Although the study does not show any connection between specific laws and specific outcomes, it does provide evidence that tort reforms may not result in more positive outcomes for patients. Regardless, too many patients are still suffering from harm and are not getting the proper compensation from it. The major hurdles include damage caps, which limits the amount an injured patient can receive in compensation, and a process that is complicated and often takes too long.

If patients suffer a serious injury during a surgery, it can take them much longer to recover. This can potentially prevent them from returning to work in addition to incurring additional medical costs. In order to prevail on a medical malpractice claim, it will have to be established that the actions or inactions of the practitioner fell below the required standard of care, and an attorney representing a plaintiff in such a case will endeavor to do so by providing the opinion testimony of medical experts as part of the evidence.