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Yes, Virginia, doctors respond to incentives

Martin Grace saves me the trouble of refuting a dishonest and silly Concord Monitor op-ed by trial lawyer Christopher Seufert (via Robinette) claiming that doctors don't care about medical malpractice laws when making location decisions.

What I want to know is: don't trial lawyers realize they're shooting themselves in the foot when they claim doctors don't respond to incentives? After all, if the medical malpractice suits don't affect doctors' behavior, why have the suits at all? Surely trial lawyers can make the intellectually honest argument against medical malpractice reform: they think doctors should be paying higher malpractice rates than they do. Of course, to be intellectually consistent with the trial lawyer argument that malpractice is underpunished, they then have to believe that doctors do more harm through malpractice than they do through practice, and should just be banned. Which is why I guess we never see the fully-fledged intellectually consistent or honest argument against medical malpractice reform: if you oppose reform, you have a choice between disingenuous or untenable.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.