Jason Millman with the Washington Post writes about the results of a Rand study showing that "tort reform" may not do what proponents thought it would do. (See "Study: Don't expect big health-care savings from medical malpractice reform.") The goal of tort reform is to limit the right of injured patients to sue for medical malpractice and thereby drive down the costs of healthcare by easing doctors' so-called compulsion to practice defensive medicine.
The underlying premise of tort reform is that doctors practice defensive medicine in order to avoid medical malpractice lawsuits. We must eliminate "frivolous" malpractice suits, so goes the argument (frivolous suits are those without sufficient legal merit) because these suits drive up the cost of healthcare.