Adverse event rates & law reforms: Support for deterrence?

The Deterrent Effect of Tort Law: Evidence from Medical Malpractice Reform is apparently not formally published as yet but is available online as a draft. Zabinski & Black from Northwestern University (USA) seek to examine whether medical malpractice reforms have affected in hospital adverse event rates. The authors conclude:

We find evidence that reduced risk of med mal litigation, due to state adoption of damage caps, leads to higher rates of preventable adverse patient safety events in hospitals. Our study is the first, either for medical malpractice or indeed, in any area of personal injury liability, to find strong evidence consistent with classic tort law deterrence theory – in which liability for harm induces greater care and relaxing liability leads to less care. The drop in care quality occurs gradually over a number of years following adoption of damage caps.

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