• AAFP Advocacy Focus: Medical Liability


    The Academy calls for medical liability reform that delivers prompt compensation to those truly injured in the course of medical care while preventing the needless diversion of limited health care dollars and leads family physicians to practice defensive medicine.

    In pursuit of this balance, the AAFP points federal lawmakers to key efforts made at the state level, particularly in California. There, highly effective tort reforms have served as a model for federal updates, having reduced attorneys' fees and placed a greater share of insurer payouts in the hands of injured patients.

    A growing number of states are adopting tort-reform provisions that require plaintiffs to present "clear and convincing evidence" of provider malpractice, recognizing — as the AAFP does — that a higher threshold of proof is an essential component of lasting reform.

    The AAFP has also long advocated for limits on non-economic damage awards and supported limits on attorneys’ contingency fees and requirements that awards be reduced by the amount of compensation derived from collateral sources.

    The Academy likewise calls for the replacement of joint and several liability with proportionate liability, so that each party would pay a share of a malpractice award based on the proportion for which he or she is liable, with the allowance of periodic payments of future damages at a defined award limit.

    The AAFP works on behalf of its members to help establish a fair and equitable medical-legal environment that protects patients and family physicians.  

    Why We Fight

    Medical liability reform is a high priority for the Academy, which calls on Congress and the White House to address this critical issue in a substantive way. Today's medical liability system fails patients as well as health care providers. Far too many medical liability lawsuits are frivolous, and too few patients actually injured by medical care are justly compensated. Excessive damage awards, exorbitant attorneys’ fees, rising malpractice premiums, and costly defensive medicine practices have greatly contributed to rising health care costs and undermined the role of the physician.

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