Cooperating for better care.

Bernard Black

Tag Archives

Behind Wisconsin’s malpractice-reform success



Jean Nicolet, in a 1910 painting by Frank Rohrbeck, was probably the first European to explore Wisconsin. The mural is in Green Bay.

Herewith a look at why Wisconsin is the state with the fewest malpractice claims per capita.

Factors include  the state’s $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages; tort-reform measures, such as the use of expert testimony to establish the standard of care; and the state’s $1.2 billion Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, which pays all claims in excess of $1 million in total damages. (Total damages include economic and noneconomic awards.)  At least one trial lawyer says that the fund removes any incentive for physicians, hospitals and their insurers to negotiate a claim, because the fund effectively caps their losses.

Medscape’s Wayne J. Guglielmo reports that Wisconsin’s  success in keeping its claims payouts at historic lows “is an extreme example of a national trend that—through a combination of damage caps and other measures, such as a compensation fund—is showing a reduction in the number of successful med-mal claims, points out Bernard Black of Northwestern University School of Law, who studies the issue.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Guglielmo reports, “{R}eform advocates in Florida are breathing easier after a state appeals court last month upheld the constitutionality of a controversial change in the state’s medical malpractice laws, reports a story that appeared on Health News Florida and other news outlets.

“The change dates back to 2013, when the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law altering ‘ex parte communications’ in med-mal cases—that is, communications that take place without all parties to the dispute being present, including attorneys and other doctors who treated the patient. Under the new law, patients are required to sign a form authorizing such communications before filing a medical-malpractice claim.”


Contact Info

(617) 230-4965

Wellesley, Mass