Archives: May 2010

Medical liability: A world of difference

As states and health care systems seek federal grants to test new ways of tackling medical liability issues in the U.S., some observers suggest looking beyond America’s borders for inspiration. While they agree no one system offers a perfect solution, experts say other countries could offer lessons to help mend what doctors say are flaws that make the U.S. medical liability landscape more expensive and litigious than that of other nations. “Nobody is as hospitable to potential liability as we are in this country,” said Richard A. Epstein, director of the law and economics program at the University of Chicago Law School. “The unmistakable drift is we do much more liability than anybody else, and the evidence on improved care is vanishingly thin.” U.S. litigation costs overall are at least twice those in other developed countries, such as Canada and much of Europe, according to a 2008 study by the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy. Experts have estimated U.S. medical liability claims to be roughly 10% of all tort litigation, with at least half of related expenses going to legal costs rather than compensating patients. It’s important to recognize that foreign legal schemes differ significantly from those in the…

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