The Center on Lawyers, Civil Justice, and the Media
PROJECT 2: MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMING IN TEXAS, 1988–2002
The Center on Lawyers, Civil Justice, and the Media has underway a
series of empirical studies of tort claims in Texas, 1988–2002, with
a special focus on claims involving medical malpractice. The
database for these projects consists of more than 150,000 reports of
closed insurance claims gathered by the Texas Department of
“Empirical studies of important, law-related policy issues do not get much
better than this.”
– From the Anonymous Referee Report on “Stability, Not Crisis.”
The first report, entitled "Stability, Not Crisis: Medical
Malpractice Claim Outcomes in Texas, 1988–2002," was released in
March, 2005. Its authors are Professors Bernard Black and Charles
Silver of the University of Texas School of Law, Professor David
Hyman of the University of Illinois, and Professor William Sage of
Columbia University. The report was accepted for publication in the
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (forthcoming July 2005), a
peer-reviewed publication, and will appear in print later this year.
The main findings of "Stability, Not Crisis" are:
- The number of large paid claims (>$25,000 in 1988 dollars) per year
was roughly constant. The number of small paid claims (<$25,000 in
1988 dollars) declined sharply.
- Mean and median payouts per large paid claim were $528,000 and
$200,000, respectively, in 2002 and were roughly constant over time.
- Roughly 5% of paid claims involved payments over $1 million, with
little annual variation.
- In 2000–2002, there was an average of 4.6 paid claims per 100
practicing Texas physicians per year, down from 6.4 paid claims per
100 practicing physicians per year in 1990–1992.
- The total number of closed claim files averaged 25 per 100 practicing
Texas physicians per year in 2000–2002. Of these, about 80%
involved no payout.
- In 2002, payouts to patients were about $515 million and Texas health
care spending was about $93 billion, meaning that malpractice payouts
equaled 0.6% of health care spending.
- Mean and median jury verdicts in trials won by patients were $889,951
and $300,593, respectively, in 2002 and showed no significant upward or
- The sum of payouts and defense cost rose by about 1% per year. Defense
costs, which grew 4.4% annually, drove this increase.
More information about the authors
Download the press release.(PDF)
Download "Stability, Not Crisis"
View the press conference at which "Stability, Not Crisis"
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
about "Stability, Not Crisis."
Media Coverage of the Study
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“Stability, Not Crisis” was funded by the Center on Lawyers,
Civil Justice, and the Media, the budget for which is provided by the
University of Texas School of Law, and by the Jon David and Elizabeth
Epstein Program in Health Law and Policy at the University of Illinois
College of Law.