Medical Malpractice:

Case Study on Florida

HRD-87-21S-3: 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 Florida's actions to address its medical malpractice insurance problems.

GAO found that Florida enacted legislation to: (1) require insurers who provide liability insurance to doctors to report medical malpractice claims to the state; (2) encourage greater use of self-insurance pools by easing or eliminating previous restrictions on them, creating an assigned risk pool which would guarantee liability insurance for all health care providers, and establishing the Florida Patient's Compensation Fund to provide a means to limit the liability of participating health care providers by paying over $100,000 for any award or settlement against a member; (3) allow the periodic payment of any award over $200,000 and require itemization according to medical expenses, lost earnings, and noneconomic damages; (4) ensure a wide availability of liability insurance at reasonable rates, a stabilized market for liability insurers, and reasonable awards or settlements for injured persons; and (5) encourage the settlement of claims before trial. GAO also found that: (1) most doctors, lawyers, malpractice insurers, and the state insurance department believed that the state actions had little major effect; (2) medical malpractice insurance cost increases during the 1980's ranged from 129 percent to 395 percent; (3) the frequency and severity of claims also increased by 14 to 57 percent; and (4) the groups surveyed widely supported state action to expand the use of pretrial screening panels to address current or future malpractice problems.

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