Medical Malpractice:

Case Study on North Carolina

HRD-87-21S-6: Published: Dec 31, 1986. Publicly Released: Jan 8, 1987.

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GAO provided a supplement to its report on medical malpractice insurance. GAO identified North Carolina's actions to address its medical malpractice insurance problems.

GAO found that, since 1980, medical malpractice insurance premiums in North Carolina have increased significantly for both physicians and hospitals. Although the state legislature created a commission to study the professional liability insurance, and enacted several law revisions concerning medical malpractice actions, they have had little effect. Much of the current problems are due to the increasing size of malpractice awards and settlements, the equity of those settlements, and the legal expenses for malpractice claims. These higher settlements were attributed to an increasing public awareness of the benefits of pursuing a claim, more aggressive attorneys, and higher public expectations of medical care. Many interest groups site frivolous malpractice claims as a future problem in the state. Although interest groups supported state action to expand the use of risk management programs, they felt that the provider and the insurer should initiate and coordinate these programs, rather than either the state or federal government.

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