Understanding the First Malpractice Crisis of the 21st Century

Understanding the First Malpractice Crisis of the 21st Century

Professional liability insurance crises in medicine have been intermittent, reaching magnitudes sufficient to generate widespread concern only in the mid-1970s, the mid-1980s, and 2002-2003. It is easy for health policymakers and the public to view each crisis as an upswing of the same pendulum. Malpractice premiums rise, doctors accuse lawyers, lawyers point back at doctors, and legislatures debate tort reform in arcane and repetitive terms ("collateral source offsets," "noneconomic damage caps," etc.).

This experience of déjà vu, however, is misleading. The current crisis is not simply a reprise of events in the 1970s or 1980s.

The principal difference this time around is that malpractice liability is clearly connected to overall health policy.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.