Medical Malpractice Payments at Historic Low because of Bogus Crisis Claims

Medical Malpractice

Findings Underscore Malpractice Is a Health Issue, not Economic

By Larry Bodine, Editor in Chief.

Medical malpractice payments remained at a historic low despite rising slightly last year, according to Public Citizen’s annual analysis of data published by the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). The dollar value of malpractice payments in 2013 was the second lowest in the past 15 years.

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Medical Malpractice Crisis was Bogus, says Florida Supreme Court

The report also notes that patient safety experts have issued increasingly dire estimates on the number of avoidable errors occurring in hospitals even as the number of liability payments for such errors has declined. Most dramatically, the Journal of Patient Safety published a study in 2013 estimating the number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients at more than 400,000 per year with preventable serious harms 10- to 20-fold more common than lethal harms.

“Medical malpractice should be treated as a health issue, not an economic one,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “And the cure is not reducing access to justice for victims of malpractice, but eliminating avoidable medical errors and negligence.”

Both the number and cumulative value of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors increased slightly in 2013, marking the first such increase in a decade. Meanwhile, medical liability insurance rates, which are not precisely tied to claims data and may lag behind payment trends, continued to decrease.

The number of payments made on behalf of doctors rose slightly, from 9,370 in 2012 to 9,677 in 2013, according to the report, “Medical Malpractice Payments Remained at Historic Low in 2013 Despite Slight Uptick.” The value of malpractice payments on behalf of doctors in 2013 was $3.3 billion, compared to $3.1 billion in 2012. Payments in 2013 accounted for about 0.11 percent of national health care costs, roughly the same as in 2012.

The report notes that both the number and value of medical malpractice payments have declined steadily since the early-2000s, when the American Medical Association (AMA) declared the liability climate in a dozen states to constitute a “crisis.” Even with the slight increase in 2013, the value of payments remained lower in both actual and inflation-adjusted dollars than for any year from 1999 to 2011.

“As the purported crisis over medical liability costs to doctors has receded, we are learning that the actual crisis over avoidable medical errors is worse than we ever knew,” said Taylor Lincoln, research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The time has come for the AMA to exhibit as much concern over the tragedies stemming from avoidable medical errors as it has over medical liability insurance costs.”

Read the report.



If some quack or medical presofsional leaves a sponge, watch, or long, metal tool inside of you, he or she should be held accountable. If you go in for an amputation and the surgeon takes off the wrong limb or from the wrong patient, that surgeon and connected staff/facility should be held accountable. However, it should not be a lottery payday. Also, not being happy with a scar from your stitches, not being happy with your nose job, or basically crying the blues over the unforeseeable is not acceptable.Screwing someone over physically, endangering a life thru negligence and maiming someone should hit you where it hurts: In your pocketbook. The problem is greed and opportunism. I agree that tort reform should be a part of any serious conversation on health care reform.To finally get to answering your question, you can argue that liberals embrace victimology'. Not surprisinglyly, the ABA tends to lean left. Since most politicians are lawyers, they tend to look out for their own. If you get to make the rules, then the rules tend to favor you and your ilk. It's good to be king.Fair compensation to a true victim of a medical mishap makes sense. Creating an industry around extorting doctors is senseless. Just my opinion.By the by, this is not a small matter. It has driven doctors from my home state. The problem isn't just the pay outs, it is the fact that doctors must pay protection money (i.e., malpractice insurance) so as to address the risk of possible litigation. The cost is were consumers get screwed. If a doctor wants to have a private practice and satisify the state with minimal coverage, he still has pass that cost onto patients. As will hospitals, clinics, etc. If you focus just on the actual pay outs, your small matter argument holds up. But you kind of forgot what the litigation then entails as a response (i.e., the need to buy ever increasing in price malpractice insurance).
Medical malpractice "reform" sounds good until you are the victim. Then you deserve to have your day in court if you want it. Only a small fraction of people injured by medical errors choose to sue their doctors or their hospitals for a number of reasons including the fact that it is a long and difficult process. You have to really believe you were harmed to go there.

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