Medicine: Malpractice Nightmare

Take a neurosurgeon practicing in New York State in 1970 and making $70,000 a year. He had to pay about $4,700 annually for malpractice insurance, which protected him against lawsuits from dissatisfied patients. Today the cost of that insurance is about $14,000. The precipitous rise is not confined to New York. Across the U.S., insurance companies are hiking premiums* as more and more patients hale doctors and medical institutions into court—and as juries increasingly award damages in six-and seven-figure amounts.

The growing burden of malpractice insurance is already forcing a number of doctors to retire early or consider moving to states where...

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