February 6, 2008

AMA Study Shows that Caps on Punitive Damages Improve Access to Health Care, or Do They?

This article discusses a new American Medical Association study, which "proves that capping punitive damages in medical malpractice cases both reduces doctors' malpractice insurance premiums and increases the number of physicians available to care for patients." According to the article, the AMA claims that placing a $250,000 cap on punitive damages in states that don't have effective reforms in place could reduce medical malpractice premiums by $1.4 billion nationwide.

The author of the article may have misinterpreted this AMA press release, issued yesterday. The press release discusses a study about the impact of caps on noneconomic damages, not punitive damages. (As most readers of this blog probably know, California has a cap of $250,000 on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, but no statutory cap on punitive damages.)