Medical Malpractice in American Urology: 22-Year National Review of the Impact of Caps and Implications for Contemporary Practice

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Urology








compensation and redress; liability, legal; malpractice; United States; urology


Purpose: Of the economic pressures on physicians practicing in the United States medical malpractice and associated costs are a major component. State tort reform in the form of caps on noneconomic awards has been pursued to control insurance premiums and improve patient access to care. We comprehensively examined jury verdicts involving urologists and determined the nature of these cases and their relationship to changes in tort reform. Materials and Methods: We searched the LexisNexis® database for all malpractice cases involving urologists using the search terms urologist and malpractice. The query included all cases between 1984 and 2005, which were categorized by state, year, amount and the nature of the injury. Results: We identified 322 jury verdict cases, of which 175 (54%) were in favor of the defendant. In states with caps the median verdict settlement within or outside the periods of caps was $350,000 and $150,000, respectively. States without caps had a median verdict or settlement of $491,500. However, the number of suits and the size of the verdict/settlement in states with and without caps during this period did not appear to be related to tort reform. Common clinical situations, such as prostate cancer and transurethral prostate resection, accounted for most suits. Conclusions: Although the concept and goals of malpractice caps seem desirable, there is little evidence that decreased physician premiums and improved access to care have been achieved via tort reform. Thus, while state and national legislative efforts to limit the economic burden on urologists continue, the specialty of urology must look to other approaches to improve the situation. © 2008 American Urological Association.

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