Tort Reform

AAOS partners with both physician groups and businesses to reform the American civil justice system through the American Tort Reform Association. ATRA is the only national organization exclusively dedicated to repairing our civil justice system. ATRA fights in Congress, in state legislatures, and in the courts to make the system fairer. AAOS identifies and champions elected officials who want to fix the system.

According to ATRA, America's $246 billion civil justice system is the most expensive in the industrialized world. 

Professional liability matters are a major concern to orthopaedic surgeons and their patients. These concerns include the practice of defensive medicine, high rates of liability insurance premiums and the problem of access to medical care, created, in part, by the high costs of providing medical care.

AAOS believes that some states have put into place tort reform systems that have helped resolve this problem and facilitate better patient care.

For example, California tort reform measures, such as the MICRA caps, have resulted in a stabilization of the medical liability situation. Some states have begun to address specific liability concerns, such as prohibiting contract provisions between health care plans and physicians that hold the doctor totally liable for the decision of a health care plan to deny care, and implementing due process hearings when care has been denied. Other states have no system that is of any benefit. In addition, there has been inconsistency in the manner in which state supreme courts have dealt with the various tort reform measures. Consequently, while the AAOS recognizes that some state reform has proven effective, federal legislation should be enacted to bring uniformity to this situation.

The AAOS believes that a uniform system to assure the equitable and efficient handling of medical liability disputes on the federal and state levels is the best solution. The AAOS also believes that these disputes should not be governed only by the laws of the state in which the alleged maloccurrence took place or where the individuals reside. Thus, the AAOS supports preemptive federal tort reform.

2007 AMA Liability Studies