The reduction in the number and amount of payments by the
"I think the medical complex has won the day," End said. "They've beaten the lawyers down to the point that now when people are injured or relatives die because of medical errors, they just can't find a lawyer."
But the decline in large malpractice awards could stem from the state's good medical care, said
"We have high quality of care, so perhaps there are fewer negligence issues happening," Grapentine said.
The fund, which started in 1975, pays malpractice awards of more than
A case before the
"The cap punishes the people most seriously injured," Rottier said. "The structure (of the fund) punishes the smaller cases that never get brought."
According to a
The surplus grew to
The office has been reducing provider fees to the fund since 2013 to bring the surplus into the target range. Doctors now pay
Over the past 20 years, the number of payments made by the fund has declined, and the total amounts paid in the past five years are considerably less than the previous five-year intervals, according to a
From fiscal years 1997 to 2001, the fund made 108 payments, or an average of 22 per year, worth a total of
In fiscal 2016, just two payments were made, including
Though the fund and a version of the
"There are fewer lawyers willing to take that gamble," he said. "Patients are left out in the cold."
However, a report this year by Zippia, a career guidance website, said
"The lawsuits are happening," Grapentine said. "It just seems like they're not winning in
Grapentine said that when doctors refuse to settle cases, it's because they want to protect their reputations, not because of the fund.
"They don't want to have a stain on their record that is not justified," he said.
Even though the number and total amount of fund payments has dipped in recent years, the average payment has gone up. In 2012 to 2016, it was
That is likely because attorneys are turning down more cases that are unlikely to result in a large payment, Rottier said.
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