Medical Malpractice

A Framework for Action Gao ID: HRD-87-73 May 20, 1987

In response to a congressional request, GAO assessed the problems relating to increases in the cost of medical malpractice insurance in recent years, focusing on: (1) states' attempts to deal with the problems; and (2) possible state and federal actions.

GAO found that, although it could not identify an obvious cause for the increase in malpractice insurance or any specific ways to prevent further increases, states could attempt to reduce insurance costs by: (1) requiring health care providers to participate in risk management programs as a condition of state licensing; (2) ensuring that physicians and other health care practitioners receive adequate training, supervision, and discipline from appropriate professional and state agencies; (3) determining if the information states use in making decisions concerning rates and solvency is sufficient; (4) educating patients as to what they should realistically expect from their health care; and (5) determining appropriate changes in state tort laws or developing viable alternatives to the tort system to improve the resolution of malpractice claims. GAO believes that, before implementing tort reform, states and the federal government must judge whether present compensation and penalties are inordinate or just.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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