Medical Malpractice:

Case Study on New York

HRD-87-21S-5: 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 New York's actions to address its medical malpractice insurance problems.

GAO found that: (1) the insurance crisis in the 1970's was due to availability, while in the 1980's the crisis shifted to one of affordability; (2) although insurance rates continue to climb for hospitals and physicians, they are highest for high-risk specialties; (3) rates are higher in New York City than in other parts of the state; (4) claims against New York physicians were higher than the national average; (5) New York enacted legislation to address the problem that included creating pretrial screening panels for malpractice suits, reducing the statute of limitations for reporting malpractice claims from 3 to 2-1/2 years, requiring an itemized list of malpractice actions, increasing malpractice prevention programs, and requiring the reporting and investigation of hospital-based malpractice incidents; and (6) current and future malpractice problems relate to the length of time to resolve claims, cost of liabiity insurance, physician actions to reduce or prevent claims, availability of insurance, the number of claims filed, the size of claims settlements, and legal expenses. GAO also found that: (1) most of the groups surveyed supported additional state actions to strengthen physician licensing and relicensing; and (2) few of the groups surveyed believed the federal government should assume a role in addressing medical malpractice insurance problems.

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