The impact of tort reform and quality improvements on medical liability claims: a tale of 2 States

Am J Med Qual. 2015 May;30(3):263-70. doi: 10.1177/1062860614534460. Epub 2014 May 14.


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of tort reform and quality improvement measures on medical liability claims in 2 groups of hospitals within the same multihospital organization: one in Texas, which implemented medical liability tort reform caps on noneconomic damages in 2003, and one in Louisiana, which did not undergo significant tort reform during the same time period. Significant reduction in medical liability claims per quarter in Texas was found after tort reform implementation (7.27 to 1.4; P<.05). A significant correlation was found between the increase in mean Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services performance score and the decrease in the frequency of claims observed in Louisiana (P<.05). Although tort reform caps on noneconomic damages in Texas caused the largest initial decrease, increasing quality improvement measures without increasing financial burden also decreased liability claims in Louisiana. Uniquely, this study showed that increasing patient quality resulted in decreased medical liability claims.

Keywords: health care cost; medical liability claims; patient safety; quality impact; tort reform.

MeSH terms

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. / statistics & numerical data
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Hospital Administration / economics*
  • Hospital Administration / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal / economics*
  • Quality Improvement / economics
  • Quality Improvement / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • United States