Medical Malpractice:

Case Study on California

HRD-87-21S-2: Published: Dec 31, 1986. Publicly Released: Dec 31, 1986.

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GAO provided a supplement to its report on medical malpractice insurance. GAO identified California's actions to address its medical malpractice insurance problem.

GAO noted that, in the mid-1970's, a crisis developed in California regarding the lack of available and affordable medical malpractice insurance. GAO found that: (1) California health care and insurance officials believe that the state's comprehensive 1975 medical malpractice legislation, which has survived numerous constitutional challenges, has helped to moderate increases in the cost of malpractice insurance and in the size of malpractice awards and settlements; (2) despite this legislation, physician and hospital malpractice premiums are continuing to rise, as are the number and size of malpractice claims and settlements; (3) there are major problems in the state regarding the high legal costs associated with defending claims and the increase in medically unnecessary procedures to reduce the risk of liability; (4) a trial lawyers' association believes that the legislation impaired malpractice victims' rights; and (5) there is no widespread state support for federal involvement.

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