A report by the New England Journal of Medicine cuts right to the heart of the tort-reform debate over medical malpractice lawsuits. The report attempts to measure the economic and emotional impact of medical malpractice cases on doctors. The study found that only about 20% of malpractice claims result in a payout to claimants. Malpractice data from 1991 through 2005 was analyzed. The authors of the study noted earlier research concluding that only a small fraction of the patients harmed by medical mistakes actually file claims. Given the costs that plaintiffs’ lawyers often must front in order to bring malpractice suits, along with the limited recoveries they face in some states that have passed tort reform legislation, “a lawyer would have to be an idiot to take a frivolous case to court,” an author of the study told AP.