Tort reform in Illinois spurs availability of ob/gyn services

December 1, 2008

A survery in Illinois before and after medical liability reform was enacted in 2005 shows that since the reforms have been in place, ob/gyns have been less likely to reduce services.

A survey of more than 2,000 ob/gyns conducted in Illinois before and after medical liability reform was enacted in 2005 shows that since the reforms have been in place ob/gyns have been less likely to reduce services. But the medical liability issue remains a major concern, according to American Medical News (10/6/08).

In 2004, before the reforms were enacted, 63% of those surveyed said that in the preceding 2 years they had limited or stopped performing vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) compared with 37% in 2008, after reform enactment. Other survey results for 2004 versus 2008 showed that tort reform had similar effects on other services: 54% in 2004 versus 34% in 2008 of those surveyed performed more cesarean sections; 50% versus 34% limited the number of high-risk patients seen; 47% versus 28% decreased the scope of medical services offered; 39% versus 30% performed fewer major gynecologic surgeries; and 21% versus 24% added/expanded the scope of medical services.

In both the 2004 and 2008 surveys, physicians who reported making a practice change in the preceding 2 years were asked, in a follow-up question, whether the particular change resulted from professional liability concerns. The percentage of respondents who said that the change resulted from concern about professional liability decreased after reform enactment. For example, of ob/gyns who limited or stopped performing VBACs in the preceding 2 years, 58% did so because of liability concerns in 2004 compared with 32% in 2008. Similarly, 28% of those who in 2004 reported performing fewer major gynecologic surgeries did so because of worries about liability compared with 20% in 2008.