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Abstract

Health care in the United States is currently in a state of crisis, and the need for reform is significant. The American Medical Association (AMA) was established in 1847 in large part to help safeguard and improve medical care and patient safety. Unfortunately, 150 years later, the health care system is seriously jeopardized by the detrimental effects of this nation's broken medical liability system.

Indeed, medical negligence lawsuits are as old as the AMA. At the same time the AMA was taking shape, pioneering physicians were discovering new treatments for previously untreatable conditions - for example, doctors developed methods to heal compound fractures that did not require amputation. Yet these advancements produced a surprising result: Trial lawyers began using the example of "a limb [that] had healed to a shortened, deformed, or frozen position" as the basis for medical negligence lawsuits. As a result of these lawsuits, "some of the best physicians in the country stopped taking such cases."

Today, lawsuits against skilled physicians are yielding largely the same result: Experienced obstetricians no longer deliver babies; highly-trained neurosurgeons no longer perform life-saving brain and trauma surgery; and orthopedic surgeons no longer perform complex procedures. Ironically, as physicians grow increasingly skilled at treating the most complex conditions, personal injury lawyers target those same high-risk specialists. Indeed, the AMA has found that the number of U.S. states with "crisis" situations has increased from twelve to twenty since it began its most recent national medical liability crisis in 2002

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