The Center for Justice and Democracy at the New York Law School recently published a study that conflicts with many commonly held beliefs regarding medical malpractice. The summary conclusions of the study are:
-Few injured patients file claims or lawsuits; experts agree that when cases are filed, they are not
-The number (“frequency”) and size (“severity”) of medical malpractice claims, lawsuits and
inflation-adjusted payouts are low and dropping.
-A small number of doctors are responsible for most malpractice payouts; even the most incompetent
physicians are rarely held accountable by state medical boards.
-“Tort reforms” keep legitimate cases from being filed.
-Physicians greatly misperceive their risk of being sued; personal assets not at risk
-Successful plaintiffs receive far less than most people think – compensation is for serious injuries
or death; high verdicts are almost always slashed; and punitive damages are extremely rare.
-Medical malpractice cases are not clogging the courts; strong cases settle.
-Lawsuits filed for medical negligence are not frivolous, yet it is still difficult for patients to prevail.
-Experts say that, even with its problems, the current medical malpractice system works.
-The best way to reduce malpractice litigation is to reduce the amount of malpractice.
-Numerous studies have debunked the notion that health care costs can be saved by stripping
away patients’ legal rights; “tort reform” has no impact on so-called defensive medicine.
-Studies establishing “defensive medicine” depend almost entirely on untrustworthy physician
surveys, often conceived by lobby groups pushing “tort reform.”
-Defensive medicine and Medicare fraud.
-The real reason doctors order too many tests: profit.
-“Tort reform” in Texas has had no effect on physician supply.
-Many studies confirm that “tort reform” has had no effect on physician supply nationally.
-Lifestyle and age considerations are the most important factor for determining not only a
doctor’s choice of location, but also his or her choice of specialty.
-Medical malpractice insurers have been incredibly profitable in recent years.
-Medical malpractice premiums have been dropping since 2006; inflation-adjusted, they are
nearly the lowest they have been in over 30 years.
-Premiums have dropped irrespective of whether “tort reforms” have been enacted
in any particular state.
“Caps” do not lower insurance premiums for doctors.
-Industry insiders have repeatedly said that capping damages will not lower insurance rates.
-Strong insurance regulatory laws are the only way to control insurance rates for doctors
-Medical errors occur in alarming numbers and are extremely costly.
-Some hospital departments are particularly unsafe.
-The situation is far worse because major errors go unreported.
-Most patients worry about medical errors.
-Patient safety is suffering because so few injured patients sue.
-Litigation improves patient safety.
-“Fear of litigation” is not the main reason doctors fail to report errors.
-“Tort reform” interferes with patient safety initiatives.
For more information contact www.earldrottlaw.com.