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The impact of tort reform on defensive medicine, quality of care, and physician supply: A systematic review

Objective: To evaluate the impact of tort reform on defensive medicine, quality of care, and physician supply.

Data Sources: Empirical, peerreviewed Englishlanguage studies in the MEDLINE and HeinOnline databases that evaluated the association between tort reform and our study outcomes.

Study Design: We performed a systematic review in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Title and abstract screening was followed by fulltext screening of relevant citations. We created evidence tables, grouped studies by outcome, and qualitatively compared the findings of included studies. We assigned a higher rating to study designs that controlled for unobservable sources of confounding.

Principal Findings: Thirtyseven studies met screening criteria. Caps on damages, collateralsource rule reform, and jointandseveral liability reform were the most common types of tort reform evaluated in the included studies. We found that caps on noneconomic damages were associated with a decrease in defensive medicine, increase in physician supply, and decrease in health care spending, but had no effect on quality of care. Other reform approaches did not have a clear or consistent impact on study outcomes.

Conclusions: We conclude that traditional tort reform methods may not be sufficient for health reform and policy makers should evaluate and incorporate newer approaches.

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