Massachusetts Medical Society: Professional Liability

Professional Liability

Legal gavel on a law book The MMS continues to advocate for reforms of the professional liability system, which does not serve patients adequately, and does not effectively promote either accountability or patient safety.

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  • Massachusetts professional liability premiums are in the top quarter of all U.S. states. The highest malpractice premiums are paid by obstetrician/gynecologists, whose typical annual premium in 2008 was $96,000.
  •  Roadmap for Transforming Medical Liability and Improving Patient Safety in Massachusetts 
    Conference discussing the possibilities of medical liability reform utilizing the "Disclosure, Apology and Offer" model for addressing adverse medical events, and unveiling a draft roadmap for implementing such a model in Massachusetts. Includes presenters' slides, and videos of their presentations. Produced in March 2011; co-sponsored by the MMS and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Background and Reference Materials

MMS Stance

  • The professional liability system is toxic to patient safety, promotes a culture of secrecy, undermines the patient-physician relationship, and does not promote accountability.
  • A fundamental transformation of the system is needed. We need to encourage full disclosure of adverse events, root-cause analysis, early compensation for patient injuries, alternative dispute resolution and mediation. Court should be the last resort.
  • Traditional tort reform measures, such as capping non-economic damages, eliminating joint and several liability and more, are proven effective in moderating malpractice insurance premium increases.

MMS Achievements

  • The MMS successfully sought legislation to reduce the pre-judgment interest rate to the Treasury Bill plus four points, as opposed to the previous 12 percent flat rate.
  • The MMS has submitted legislation that would prohibit physicians' genuine expressions of regret to patients and their families inadmissible in court.
  • The MMS continues to seek state legislation to improve the professional liability climate in Massachusetts.

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