The landmark decision of the Florida Supreme Court to reverse a 2003 ruling that capped non-economic damages for medical malpractice suits features a comprehensive look at the state of medical malpractice affairs today. The decision can be read in its entirety on the Florida Supreme Court’s website. In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at a few significant points the court made in its most recent ruling.
Notes from Florida’s Medical Malpractice Decision
Medical Malpractice Insurance is Profiting
The court noted that recent data shows that the number of medical malpractice insurers in the state have increased, as have profits. "Indeed, between the years of 2003 and 2010, four insurance companies that offered medical malpractice insurance in Florida cumulatively reported an increase in their net income of more than 4300 percent." The court noted that these increases could be passed on the states’ physicians as reduced malpractice premiums.
Where are Premiums Increasing?
Many would hold that medical malpractice caps keep insurance premiums down, but the court cited data to the contrary. From 1991-2002, premiums increased less in states without caps than states with caps for three "high-risk specialties." Furthermore, data showed that premiums declined or held steady in 6 states without caps. For comparison, premiums declined or held steady in only 2 states with caps.
Florida’s Physician Supply
The court cited government reports that showed that the number of doctors in Florida increased in both urban and rural areas in the years approaching the state’s medical malpractice crisis. "Although medical malpractice premiums in Florida were undoubtedly high in 2003, we conclude the Legislature’s determination that ‘the increase in medical malpractice liability insurance rates in forcing physicians to practice medicine without professional liability insurance, to leave Florida, to not perform high-risk procedures, or to retire early from the practice of medicine’ is unsupported."