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APRIL 1, 2004


Lawsuits increase the cost of healthcare, force changes in the practice of medicine and scare patients from necessary care.

WASHINGTON, DC — Doctors believe that patients are paying the price for frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the cost of healthcare and negatively affecting the practice of medicine, according to a survey released today by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) and

Results of the study, which focus on physicians practicing in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and West Virginia, clearly demonstrate that medical lawsuits hurt our healthcare system. The majority of physicians surveyed believe that Judicial Hellholesā„¢ negatively affect their ability to practice medicine and increase the cost of patient care.

"This study suggests that Judicial Hellholes really do harm healthcare," said Sherman Joyce, President of the American Tort Reform Association, a trade association of more than 400 members who support civil justice reform.

Judicial Hellholes are state trial court jurisdictions where ATRA believes that impartial justice is unavailable. Personal injury lawyers seek out these jurisdictions and file cases there with the expectation that they will receive a large reward, a favorable precedent, or both. In the four states surveyed, ATRA has identified numerous Judicial Hellhole jurisdictions.

"Lawsuits are clearly taking a toll on both physicians and patients," said Dr. Elizabeth Connell, senior advisor to and former FDA Advisory Panel chairperson. "In many states, frivolous lawsuits are forcing physicians to limit services, retire early, or move to states where reforms have made the system more stable. The healthcare litigation crisis is threatening access to care for patients."

Three key areas of concern were reflected in the four states surveyed:

  • Nearly all doctors believe that unnecessary lawsuits increase the cost of patient care.

    • Three-quarters believe that lawsuits impact the cost of care "a lot."

  • Doctors are changing the way they practice medicine because of their concerns about medical litigation.

    • Nine-out-of-ten doctors are concerned about the effect of medical litigation on their practice of medicine.

  • Personal injury lawyers use scare tactics that put healthcare at risk.

    • One-third of doctors have read or heard about patients who were put at risk because of inflammatory advertising by personal injury lawyers.

    • Two-thirds believe that inflammatory advertising causes patients to fail to seek appropriate medical care.

"Fear of becoming a target for litigation is compelling doctors to change the way they practice medicine, and forcing some companies to pull much-needed products off the market," Joyce said.

"This survey proves what common sense and experience is already telling us. In the last twenty years, personal injury lawyers have found litigation against physicians, other healthcare providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers to be a lucrative growth area in their practices. Unfortunately, while these frivolous lawsuits are making personal injury lawyers rich, they are harming healthcare for the rest of us," Joyce noted.

The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) and commissioned the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut to conduct an impartial series of list-based scientific telephone surveys with physicians concerning medical litigation issues. Interviews were conducted in Louisiana (n=101), Mississippi (n=107), Texas (n=103) and West Virginia (n=100) from December 2, 2003 to January 16, 2004 among Internists, General Practitioners, OB-GYNs, Cardiologists, and Gastroenterologists selected from an American Medical Association list. For more information about the survey methodology, or to receive a copy of the report findings, please visit ATRA's Web site,

Concerned citizens can visit, a Website that provides information on the healthcare litigation epidemic that is hurting America's healthcare system.

About the American Tort Reform Association
Founded in 1986, the American Tort Reform Association is a broad based, bipartisan coalition of more than 300 businesses, corporations, municipalities, associations, and professional firms who support civil justice reform.

Sick of is a grassroots campaign designed and supported by Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) groups and other civil justice reform groups across the country to help raise awareness of the healthcare litigation epidemic affecting all Americans. CALA groups are locally based, non-profit community coalitions dedicated to making the public better aware of the cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse. This grassroots response to junk lawsuits and the abuse of our legal system enjoys the strong and active support of small business people, consumers and taxpayers across several states.


Gretchen Schaefer of the American Tort Reform Association
+1-202-682-1163, ext. 15

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