TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Monday, April 23, 2007

A couple of new articles...

Two new potentially interesting SSRN postings:

1.  Kathryn Zeiler (Georgetown/NYU), Charlie Silver (Texas), Bernard Black (Texas), David Hyman (Illinois), and William Sage (Texas) have posted on SSRN "Physicians' Insurance Limits and Malpractice Payments: Evidence from Texas Closed Claims, 1990-2003" (forthcoming in the Journal of Legal Studies)  The abstract:

Physicians' insuring practices influence their incentives to take care when treating patients, their risk of making out-of-pocket payments in malpractice cases, and the adequacy of compensation available to injured patients. Yet, these practices and their effects have rarely been studied. Using Texas Department of Insurance data on 9,525 paid malpractice claims against physicians that closed 1990-2003, we provide the first systematic evidence on levels of coverage purchased by physicians with paid liability claims and how those levels affect out-of-pocket payments and patient compensation. We find that these physicians carried much less insurance than is conventionally believed, that their real primary limits declined steadily over time, that policy limits often act as effective caps on recovery, and that personal contributions by physicians to close claims were rare. Our findings call into question a number of common assumptions about the relationship between physician insuring practices and the medical malpractice liability system.

2.  John Rolph (USC Information & Operations Management Dept.), John Adams (RAND), and Kim McGuigan (Pfizer) have an SSRN posting of a piece that came out in the March Journal of Legal Studies, Identifying Malpractice-Prone Physicians.  The abstract:

We analyze the claims database of a large malpractice insurer covering more than 8,000 physicians and 9,300 claims. Applying empirical Bayes methods in a regression setting, we construct a predictor of each physician's underlying propensity to incur malpractice claims. Our explanatory factors are physician demographics (age, sex, specialty, training) and physician practice pattern characteristics (practice setting, procedures performed, practice intensity, special risk factors, and characteristics of hospital(s) on staff of). We divide physicians into medical and surgical/ancillary specialty categories and fit separate models to each. In the surgical/ancillary specialty group, physician characteristics can effectively distinguish between more and less claims-prone physicians. Physician characteristics have somewhat less predictive power in the medical specialty group. As measured by predictive information, physician characteristics are superior to 10 years of claims history. Insofar as medical malpractice claims can be thought of as extreme indicators of poor-quality care, this finding suggests that easily gathered physician characteristics can be helpful in designing targeted quality of care improvement policies.

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