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Maybe malpractice caps aren't the answer ...

Physicians who are hard-pressed to keep up with the ever-rising costs of malpractice premiums tend to blame unreasonably large settlements for amorphous claims of "pain and suffering." The Bush administration subscribes to this belief, and has made caps on such awards a centerpiece of its program to rein in health-care costs. Last month, a group called the Coalition for Accessible Physicians staged a "National Doctors' Day" in Washington to influence Congress to pass the measure. (For more information about this effort, visit http://www.nationaldoctorsday.org/.)

But it may be that these doctors are barking up the wrong tree. Who might the real culprits be? Not patients who sue but insurance companies whose rate increases are not tied to big settlements, and the failure of the medical profession to get rid of bad apples in its midst. Two recent investigations support this argument: