State damage caps linked to boost in physician supply
States with caps on pain and suffering awards in
malpractice lawsuits have more physicians per capita than other states, a
government study found.
Tanya Albert, AMNews staff. July
Physicians seem to flock to states with caps on pain and
suffering awards in medical liability lawsuits. There are about 12% more
physicians per capita in states with damage caps than in states without
caps, according to a study released in July by the Health and Human
Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Alaska had caps in 2000, as did California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho,
Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri,
Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West
Virginia and Wisconsin.
These states averaged 135 physicians per 100,000 citizens per county.
States without caps averaged 120 physicians per 100,000 citizens per
county, according to the study.
This disparity in physician supply was not seen before caps began being
In 1970, states that now have caps had 69 physicians per 100,000
citizens per county and states that have not adopted caps in the past
three decades averaged 67 physicians per 100,000 citizens per county, the
"This study confirms and quantifies the association between reasonable
limits in medical lawsuits and the supply of physicians available to treat
patients who need them," HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said in a
The AHRQ study, "Impact of State Laws Limiting Malpractice Awards on
Geographic Distribution of Physicians," analyzed state experiences over
the past 30 years, adjusting for other factors that affect physician
supply, such as per capita income and physician residency training
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Copyright 2003 American Medical Association. All