Physician insurer group disputes Public Citizen report on malpractice

May 1, 2007

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The Physician Insurers Association of America (PIAA) has taken issue with a report released by Public Citizen, a public-interest group founded by Ralph Nader. Medical Liability Monitor (2/2007) noted that "the report, 'The Great Medical Malpractice Hoax,' suggests that there is no medical liability crisis in America and that the medical liability system produces rational outcomes."

The PIAA disagreed, saying that the report is based on "inaccuracies and the misinterpretations of government data." The group identified several errors in the report. For example, the PIAA pointed out that the conclusion that rational outcomes come out of the current medical liability system is erroneous. The PIAA notes that Public Citizen used data from the National Practitioner Data Base, which ignores claims in which no payments by physicians were made. This skews the public-interest group's conclusion, since meritless claims "demonstrate the irrationality of the system."

Moreover, the PIAA noted that the report erroneously asserts that malpractice insurers have seen huge profits. While Public Citizen cited huge profits of more than $800 million by insurers who underwrite policies in Florida, the PIAA asserted that, based on many sources, the insurance industry has suffered losses from 1998 to 2003 and has only recently began to see modest profitability.