Medical Malpractice: Strengthening the Evidence Base

Vol. IX, No. 8
December 1, 2006

For decades, the myriad issues associated with medical malpractice have been hotly debated by advocates, researchers, and policymakers alike. Historically, legislative efforts have focused primarily on tort reform and insurance regulation. More recent proposals have begun to explore alternative policy approaches such as apology-compensation programs, health courts, and patient safety initiatives. Despite continued attention, most policy proposals are based on research findings facing the same drawbacks—data limitations and disparate methodologies. Missing and inaccurate data and poorly designed studies lead to inconsistent findings, which have made the malpractice debate vulnerable to exaggerated and invalid claims and ideological rhetoric.