Tort Reform: An Issue for Nurse Practitioners


  • Diane L. Klutz RN, MS, CNS, FNP

    1. Diane Klutz is the Family Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator for Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and a Nursing Doctoral Student at Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas.
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To inform nurse practitioners (NPs) about the issues related to tort reform and its relationship to malpractice insurance costs.

Data Sources

Current journals, newspapers, professional newsletters, and Internet sites.


NPs are paying more for their malpractice premiums, and many are losing their places of employment as clinics close due to the increased cost of premiums. One method proposed for curbing the flow of monies spent on premiums and litigation is tort law reform. California serves as an example; its Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) tort reform law was passed 25 years ago, and has maintained stable malpractice premiums. Other states have proposed similar laws, but some have not had similar success. To curb litigation costs, not only should tort laws be reformed, but NPs and physicians should keep abreast of current practice standards in order to provide quality medical care.

Implications for Practice

Like physicians, NPs are affected directly by tort laws. These laws hold NPs accountable the same level as physicians. In addition, many states limit NPs’ practice to delegation of authority by a physician. Liability is therefore transferred from the NP to the physician and vice versa in cases of injury or wrongful act. In addition, many NPs are finding it increasingly difficult to locate insurers who will write policies for medical liability.