Minnesota: A Model for Medical Malpractice Suits

Tort reform is not the answer. It will not lower health insurance rates. It will not lower health care costs. It will not reduce doctors’ premiums. Rather, it will penalize the most critically injured patients. Furthermore, it will reduce the pressure on medical professionals to avoid careless medical errors.

The focus should be on reducing the number of medical errors. Currently in the United States, there are about 98,000 deaths per year due to medical error.

“We have an epidemic of medical malpractice, not of malpractice lawsuits.” ~ Tom Baker, University of Pennsylvania law professor

“The major problem out there is medical errors that are not compensated, rather than frivolous claims that are compensated.” ~ William Sage, University of Texas at Austin Vice Provost for Health Affairs

The Minnesota Model

The nation should look to the state of Minnesota for ideas on how to combat rising medical costs. From 1997 to 2008, according to the Minnesota Supreme Court statistics, medical malpractice lawsuit filings went down 45%. In 2007 alone, out of 1.9 million cases filed; only 114 were medical malpractice suits.

There are a number of reasons for the amazing statistics in Minnesota. They include:

  • Minnesota has proficient, conscientious physicians.
  • Minnesota has excellent clinics and hospitals.
  • Minnesota state lawmakers have enacted a statutory affidavit rule. This requires plaintiff attorneys to certify that they have sound medical support before they file any medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Minnesota juries tend to be reasonable.
  • Minnesota judges have the power to reduce any verdict deemed excessive.

The system is working in Minnesota and the benefits filter down. Minnesota doctors pay a fraction of what doctors in other states pay for malpractice insurance. (Minnesota has the lowest malpractice premiums in the entire U.S.) In Minnesota, the annual average percentage of growth in health care expenditures is 8.6%, only 14 states have a lower percentage rate.

Medical malpractice reform will not save one life. We need to work to prevent injuries. We need to find ways to improve patient care and safety. We need to penalize those who don’t.

This information is provided as a service of TSR Injury Law, a personal injury law firm serving Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the state of Minnesota. Our partners have been named Minnesota Super Lawyers over many years. Additionally, they are on the Board of Governors of Minnesota Association for Justice and frequent speakers on litigation and personal injury law. For more information, call 612-TSR-TIME or submit our free consultation form.