Winners & losers: how medical malpractice disputes are resolved
Conventional wisdom regarding medical practice disputes is not supported by facts, and proposals to limit the size of awards or the size of attorneys' fees do not appear likely to curb the incidence of lawsuits. A 1989-90 survey of 187 Florida families who had filed suits against physicians shows that patients are more likely to sue to exact retribution and to "find out what happened." Those who sued often cited poor communication by physicians and hospital emergency room personnel. A prior relationship with a doctor or hospital didn't protect the provider from a suit. In four-fifths of the cases studied, total economic loss exceeded payment. In settlements before trial, the gap was even larger. Limits on awards would merely exacerbate that shortfall.