State Watch | Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Highlights Recent Developments Related to Medical Malpractice in Four States

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The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report features recent developments related to medical malpractice in four states. Summaries appear below.

* Illinois: Illinois medical malpractice insurance premiums have decreased by an average of 5.2% this year and either will remain the same or drop again next year, according to ISMIE Mutual, the state’s largest malpractice insurer, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. A 2005 state law required ISMIE, which insures between 60% and 65% of Illinois doctors, to make information on their rates public to encourage competition. One insurer, Medical Protective, said the law was one reason why it expanded its business in Illinois and cut malpractice insurance rates by about 30%. The effect on malpractice insurance rates from a recent tort reform law that was enacted Aug. 25, 2005, is yet to be seen because it typically takes several years for a case to go to trial, according to Bruce Kohen, president-elect of the Illinois Trial Lawyer Association. The law, which is being challenged in court, limits malpractice awards for pain, suffering and disability to $500,000 per doctor and $1 million per hospital (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/26/06).

* Maryland: The Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland, the largest malpractice insurer in the state, plans to reduce premium rates for physicians by 8% in 2007, a move that would mark the first reduction since at least 1992, the AP/Washington Times reports. Medical Mutual cited a decreased number of malpractice claims as the reason for the planned reduction in premium rates. Over the previous two years, Medical Mutual increased premium rates by 28% and 33% (AP/Washington Times, 12/18/06).

* Tennessee: More than 83% of malpractice claims that closed in the state in 2005 resulted in no payment of damages to patients or their families, according to a report recently released by the state Department of Commerce and Insurance, the Tennessean reports. The report, required under a law passed by the state Legislature in 2004, examined the 2,827 malpractice claims that closed in 2005. According to the report, 16% of the malpractice claims, or 461 cases, resulted in settlements that totaled more than $119 million in damages. The report also found that five of the malpractice claims resulted in jury verdicts for plaintiffs that totaled more than $6 million (Burke, Tennessean, 12/24/06).

Online The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.

* Washington, D.C.: Washington, D.C., physicians, hospitals and other health care providers soon will be required to report “adverse medical events” to a centralized public database created by the district health department in an effort to protect patients and improve care, the Washington Post reports. Under legislation passed by the district Council, doctors will have up to 60 days to report judgments and settlements related to malpractice allegations and any other disciplinary actions imposed by other states. The database must be established by July 1. The health department will analyze the information to identify patterns and trends, help develop corrective plans and publish an annual summary, the Post reports. It is unknown when the information will be available for public use. Critics of the reporting requirement say the general description of an adverse event is too vague, the Post reports. The legislation also includes provisions to regulate some malpractice insurance rates and to require 90-day notification and mediation in malpractice lawsuits (Levine, Washington Post, 12/28/06).
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