Ohioans aren't successfully suing their doctors at quite the same clip, according the figures released recently from the state. But this by no means indicates medical professionals are getting tidier on the job, just that Ohio's astringent tort-reform law is having the intended effect – making it more difficult for average folks to squeeze out just compensation for medical fuck-ups and fumbled judgment.
The law went on the books in 2003 after doctors and medical associations jangled the chain of the Ohio GOP about the rising cost of malpractice insurance. Among other red tape, the legislation put a cap on the dollar amount courts could award for “pain and suffering”: $500,000.
Now just under a decade since tort-reformed passed, the numbers indicate closed claims of malpractice dropped 41 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The numbers also indicate average payout for a successful claim has dropped 38 percent.
The results are clear in the 2010 annual report: Closed claims dropped to 2,988, the lowest level since the state began keeping records in 2005, and total payments dropped to $175million, more than $100million lower than five years earlier.
In addition, doctors’ medical malpractice rates have dropped more than 26 percent, according to Tim Maglione, of the Ohio State Medical Association.
To hang an actual face to these dry state, we'll point you toward our November story, "No Guts, No Glory," a piece on a Lakewood couple who suffered through the harsh after-effects of a botched medical procedure but had no legal options for restitution. When you stop talking about digits and start considering people, the whole report takes on some new gravity.