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Tort reform may not improve doctor performance

North Carolina residents may believe that stronger malpractice laws could reduce surgical complications. However, a study finds that this may not be the case. According to the study leader from the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, it may cause doctors to order unnecessary tests or pursue treatments that may not be necessary.

In states where doctors faced an increased risk of being sued, patients were 9 percent more likely to develop pneumonia. They were also more likely to have acute kidney failure as well as gastrointestinal bleeding. Those who were treated in states where there was a higher risk of a malpractice claim were 22 percent more likely to develop sepsis. The researchers admitted that they couldn't prove whether or not specific malpractice laws caused a particular outcome for a patient. This was partially because malpractice environment and surgical complications may be specific to certain types of procedures or fields of medicine, according to a law and medicine professor from the University of Texas who wasn't involved with the study.

He also said that the only thing that was certain is that too many patients are injured and that not enough of them are compensated. Another researcher from Harvard who also wasn't involved in the study said that uniform national standards may be the best way to improve the quality of patient care.

Patients who are harmed because of hospital negligence may wish to talk with an attorney. An attorney will often consult with medical experts in order to pinpoint the party or parties that should bear the financial responsibility for the additional medical expenses and other losses that the patient has incurred.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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