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Washington

Recent Reforms Enacted (since 2003) Reduced interest payments on jury awards, tied to a set two percent above market rates. In 2006, approved I'm Sorry protection for physician statements of apology within 30 days of an adverse event. A voluntary binding arbitration system was created, subject to a $1 million limit on damages. Juries are made aware of collateral source payments. The state insurance commissioner is authorized to approve rate increase requests. Hospitals required to report serious adverse events to the state within two days.
Emergency Care Provision None
Reform Elements In Law Joint Liability
Collateral Source
Periodic Payments
Pre-judgment interest
I'm Sorry Law
Constitutional Status of Reforms The state's certificate of merit law passed in 2006 was ruled unconstitutional in 2009 by the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the law violated the separation of powers doctrine by having the legislature impose restrictions on court proceedings.
Change in Insurance Rates The state office of the insurance commissioner reported that physicians' insurance premiums, when adjusted for inflation, cots about the same in 2005 as it did in 1985. Physicians Insurance asked to reduce premium rates by 7.7% in 2005, after the company reported record earnings in 2004. The Doctors Company announced avg premium reductions of 7.2% for 2008. AMA reports at least one insurer raised rates as much as 40 to 100% in 2004. Avg. premiums have increased 15 o 25 percent per year for several years.
Insurance Availability Physicians Insurance provides malpractice insurance to about 70% of physicians in the state.
Change in Physician Availability Information not available.
Change in Cases Filed/Awards From 1995-2005, medical liability claims rose by about 3.5% per year, the average amount insurers paid increased 3.2% per year and the average amount insurers paid to defend doctors increased about 7% per year (State Insurance Office). Settlements and verdicts of $1M or more grew from 10 in 1993 to 39 in 2002. (AMA) 193 paid claims in 2003 or 11.8 per 1000 active nonfederal physicians. US avg. was 18.8 per 1000. 167 paid claims in 2005 or 10.1 per 1000 active nonfederal physicians. US avg. was 17.1 per 1000. (Kaiser) 157 total number of paid claims for 2006 or 7.9 per 1,000 active, non-federal physicians. 152 paid claims in 2007.
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