The last major revision of Virginia statutes relating to medical malpractice was in 1976. At that time the General Assembly provided for medical malpractice review panels and mandated a method of reporting medical malpractice claims. These innovations were in response to a perceived medical malpractice crisis in the mid-1970's. A symptom of the crisis was the astronomical rise in the cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums. This increase plagued patients as well as physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers. The higher premiums, of course, were reflected in fees for services rendered by providers. In addition, providers began to practice "defensive medicine."' Upon learning of huge, well publicized verdicts against at least a few of their brethren, they defensively ordered costly medical and laboratory tests and examinations to avoid the possible inference of laxity and culpability. These procedures added to the patient's bill.
William H. Daughtrey Jr. & Charles H. Smith,
Medical Malpractice Review Panels in Operation in Virginia,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol19/iss2/5