Unintended Consequences of Medical Malpractice Damages Caps

This study, by Columbia Law School Associate Professor of Law Catherine M. Sharkey, raises questions about medical liability reform initiatives premised on the assumption that caps on awards for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases will advantage doctors, hospitals and insurers by necessarily reducing total jury compensatory awards.

An objective analysis of the efficacy of caps on non-economic damages in medical liability cases shows that awards for non-economic damages—pain and suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, marital losses, anguish, and inconvenience—do not significantly and systematically reduce overall awards to plaintiffs. In fact, limiting non-economic damages may be contributing to a rise in economic damage—lost wages, medical expenses (past and future), rehabilitation expenses, and other financial costs.

Spotlight on Mental Health

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Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

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

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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?

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

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

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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.