According to a 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, roughly one in 14 physician anesthesiologists will face a malpractice suit every year, a rate that is close to the average of all physicians. Professional liability reform has been a highly debated issue in the U.S. over the past several decades. Attempts to pass federal legislation have met with failure. Efforts in the states have had varying degrees of success. The courts have gotten involved, weighing in on the constitutionality of many of the provisions.

Liability is grounded in tort law. Webster’s Dictionary defines a tort as “a wrongful act, other than a breach of contract, for which the court provides a civil (noncriminal) action to be brought.” Someone who is injured may seek monetary payment for the perceived cause of injury, usually through legal proceedings.

States that have passed tort reform laws experience a decrease...

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