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Civitas Poll: Voters Say Lower Healthcare Costs by Limiting Medical Malpractice Suits

March 01, 2011 J

Civitas Poll: Voters Say Lower Healthcare Costs by Limiting Medical Malpractice Suits

Raleigh, N.C. – Over half, or 56 percent, of North Carolina voters say the state Legislature should limit medical malpractice lawsuits in order to lower the cost of health care and insurance, according to a new poll released today by the Civitas Institute.
Fifty-six percent of voters said the state Legislature needs to limit medical malpractice lawsuits and jury awards because they force doctors to order unnecessary tests for fear of getting sued. Thirty-three percent said that limits on lawsuits infringe on the constitutional right of each citizen to have his day in court and patients need every tool available to them to guard against medical malpractice. Eleven percent of voters said they do not know or have no opinion.

“North Carolina voters are seeking reform that will lower their health care and insurance costs while still allowing them to pursue legitimate malpractice suits,” said Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca.

There is strong backing for limiting medical malpractice lawsuits among all parties as Republicans (63 percent limit – 29 percent don’t limit) and Unaffiliated voters (60 percent limit – 27 percent don’t limit) most strongly support the idea. Democratic voters say limit malpractice lawsuits by a 49 percent – 38 percent margin.

“Malpractice lawsuits affect more than just the plaintiff and defendant,” added De Luca. “Costs increase rates for everyone, not just the doctors and hospitals sued, which increases the cost of health care and the insurance people buy to help protect themselves in case of illness or accidents.”
Furthermore, 76 percent of voters said they agree that doctors sometimes order unnecessary tests which drive up medical costs in order to avoid frivolous medical malpractice suits. Just 20 percent said they disagree with this statement.
The Civitas Poll is the only monthly live-caller poll of critical issues facing North Carolina. For more information on Civitas polling see http://www.nccivitas.org/category/poll/.

Full text of questions:
“Which of the following statements comes closer to your own opinion when it comes to medical malpractice suits?”

Some/other people say that the state Legislature needs to limit medical malpractice lawsuits and jury awards because all of these lawsuits force doctors to practice defensive medicine, such as ordering up unnecessary tests for fear of getting sued. All of this drives up the cost of health care and health insurance. – 56%
Some/other people say that limits on lawsuits infringe on the constitutional right of each citizen to have his day in court and patients need every tool available to them to guard against medical malpractice – 33%
Don’t Know/Refused – 11%

“Please tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statement: Doctors sometimes order extra, unnecessary tests that end up driving up medical costs in order to avoid frivolous medical malpractice suits”
Total Agree – 76%
Total Disagree – 20%

Strongly Agree – 44%
Somewhat Agree – 32%
Somewhat Disagree – 11%
Strongly Disagree – 9%
Don’t Know/No Opinion – 4%

Click here for full results and crosstabs.

Click here for our February 22 release on medical malpractice reform.

This poll of 600 registered general election voters in North Carolina was conducted February 10, 12-13 by National Research, Inc. of Holmdel, NJ. All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of registered voters in North Carolina. For purposes of this study, voters interviewed had to have voted in two of the past four general elections or were newly registered to vote since 2008.

The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that: 95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in two of the past four general elections or were newly registered to vote since 2008.
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Katie Trout
Communications Director
John W. Pope Civitas Institute
Raleigh, NC | | 919.834.2099
NCCivitas.org

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