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Tort Liability and Obstetricians' Care Levels

Listed author(s):
  • Sloan, Frank
  • Entman, Stephen S.
  • Reilly, Bridget A.
  • Cheryl A. Glass
  • Gerald B. Hickson
  • Harold H. Zhang

In this study, we assess practice changes made in response to the threat of tort liability in the field of obstetrics, which has one of the highest levels of premiums, claim frequency, and mean dollar value of paid claims. There is much "conventional wisdom" about effects of tort liability risk on obstetrical practice based on obstetricians' perceptions of changes that have occurred. Our data comes from the Survey of Obstetrical Care in 1992, a survey of 963 women who had given birth in 1987 in 31 counties in Florida conducted for purposes of this study and related studies of medical malpractice and birth outcomes. Our results suggest that some antenatal testing is responsive to variation in the threat of being used. But for most measures included in our study, half of the antenatal testing variables, the decision to perform a cesarean section, and various dimensions of maternal satisfaction with care, our empirical analysis failed to reveal that obstetricians practice more "defensively" in areas with relatively high suit rates.

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Paper provided by Duke University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 95-07.

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Date of creation: 1995
Publication status: Published in INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF LAW AND ECONOMICS, Vol. 17, 1997, pages 245-260
Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:95-07
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Department of Economics Duke University 213 Social Sciences Building Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097

Phone: (919) 660-1800
Fax: (919) 684-8974
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Craswell, Richard & Calfee, John E, 1986. "Deterrence and Uncertain Legal Standards," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 279-303, Fall.
  2. Peter A. Diamond, 1974. "Single Activity Accidents," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 107-164, January.
  3. Michael Spence, 1977. "Consumer Misperceptions, Product Failure and Producer Liability," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 561-572.
  4. Kahan, Marcel, 1989. "Causation and Incentives to Take Care under the Negligence Rule," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 427-447, June.
  5. Danzon, Patricia M., 1985. "Liability and liability insurance for medical malpractice," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 309-331, December.
  6. Sloan, Frank A. & Hassan, Mahmud, 1990. "Equity and accuracy in medical malpractice insurance pricing," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 289-319, November.
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