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Kansas Ranks Near Top, Missouri Near Bottom When It Comes To Malpractice Laws

Kansas ranks near the top of states and Missouri near the bottom when it comes to protecting physicians against lawsuits. That's according to a new report card from the American College of Emergency Physicians. The report applauds Kansas’s malpractice tort reform but condemns Missouri for its higher-than-average malpractice award payments.

The physician’s group behind the new rankings says medical lawsuits drive up health costs as much as 108 billion dollars a year nationally.

But health economist Timothy McBride of Washington University believes the economic impact of lawsuits is overstated, adding up to just about 5 percent of overall health costs.

“Health care costs tend to go up four or five percentage points per year, so even if we wiped out all malpractice costs, in one year, we’d make it all up again," says McBride.

McBride says malpractice lawsuits offer patients a way to protect against damage done by medical providers.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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