Tort reform and the obstetric access crisis. The case of the WAMI states

  • Abstract

    The states of Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WAMI) have all had declines in the proportion of physicians offering obstetricservices during the past few years, a decline precipitated by rising medical malpractice premiums. One response to the problem of rising liability premiums has been the passage of extensive tort reform legislation. We present the results of recent studies of physicians’ obstetricpractices in the WAMI states and summarize the major changes in tort legislation and regulation that have occurred in these states. Most general and family physicians in the WAMI region no longer provide obstetric care; by contrast, more than 80% of the obstetrician-gynecologists in the WAMI states are still practicing obstetrics. Despite the fact that only a minority of family physicians are still active in obstetrics, most rural family physicians in all four states still deliver babies. Most physicians in all four states limit the amount of care they provide to those covered by Medicaid, which suggests that significant barriers to care exist for medically indigent persons. All four states have adopted significant tort reforms. Despite these changes in the legal environment, the cost of malpractice premiums and concerns over the likelihood of being sued continue to limit the number of physicians willing to provide obstetric care. Although it cannot be inferred from these data that tort reform has decreased the rate at which physicians give up obstetric practice, the evidence is compatible with such a conclusion.

    Comment in

  • Authors:

    Rosenblatt RA, Bovbjerg RR, Whelan A, Baldwin LM, Hart LG, Long C

  • Journal/Publisher:

    West J Med

  • Edition:

    Jun 1991. 154(6):693-699

  • Link to Article

    Access the article here: West J Med

  • Citation:

    Rosenblatt RA, Bovbjerg RR, Whelan A, Baldwin LM, Hart LG, Long C. Tort Reform And The Obstetric Access Crisis. The Case Of The WAMI States. West J Med. Jun 1991 154(6):693-699

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    Tort Reform and the Obstetrical Access Crisis