Medical Malpractice Myths
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Large insurance companies have spread myths regarding medical malpractice and the civil justice system in an effort to help tilt the scales of justice in their favor.
Medical errors rarely happen.
Between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year due to preventable medical errors according to The Institute of Medicine. By comparison, the annual death toll from automobile accidents is 43,000. The cost resulting from preventable medical errors in hospitals to patients, families and communities is estimated at $17 billion to $29 billion dollars each year. With the cost of medical malpractice insurance to health care providers is only $1.9 billion dollars each year – about half the minimum cost of preventable medical errors. Physicians and hospitals expect that the taxpayers of various states will pick up this difference in the cost of continuing treatment to individuals who have suffered an injury or even death as the result of medical malpractice. A settlement or jury verdict can place that burden on the individual who caused the harm, not on the taxpayers.
Medical malpractice claims drive up everyone’s health care costs.
Medical malpractice payouts are less than one percent (1%) of the total U.S. health care costs. According to the GOA, all “losses” (verdicts, settlements, legal fees, etc.) have stayed under 1% for the last eighteen years. Health insurance companies continue to raise premiums, boasting record profits and denying patients coverage, refusing payment to doctors, enabling insurance companies to hoard profits at the expense of everyone else. The insurance industry’s price gouging of both patients and doctors to make up for their investment losses is what are driving up health insurance cost.
Doctors are leaving the state because of high malpractice verdicts.
According to the figures from the Ohio State Medical Board, it shows that the number of doctors in the State of Ohio increases by five percent (5%) per year. The American Medical Association’s (AMA) figures indicate that the total number of doctors in the United States have increased by more than forty percent (40%) since 1990 alone.
There is a litigation explosion of lawsuits in Ohio.
The number of personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits has steadily been declining over the last ten years. For example in 2006, there were 1,500 malpractice suits filed against engineers, doctors, accountants, lawyers and other professionals. That is for the entire state. Of those, only 134 went to trial in the whole state. On the other hand, there were 79,000 foreclosures filed in the State of Ohio in 2006. In fact, the number of business-against-business lawsuits outnumbers the number of personal injury lawsuits by more than 4 to 1.
Doesn’t the medical board investigate and discipline doctors for malpractice?
Doctors and medical providers who commit malpractice rarely are disciplined by the Ohio Medical Board. As a result, the best way to change the negligent behavior of a physician or medical provider is by forcing them to confront their mistake through the testimony of well qualified physicians who are leaders in their field, who we would retain on your behalf. This testimony and conformation that the physician has made a mistake is what results in real changes in the medical community.
Doctors cannot afford to practice because of rising malpractice insurance rates.
Fortunately, all doctors and hospitals are required to carry medical liability insurance to protect their patients and compensate them when medical errors have occurred. Victims of medical malpractice typically incur extraordinary expenses for medical care and treatment, especially in cases involving birth injuries or permanent physical injuries. The Ohio Department of Insurance notes that medical malpractice premiums are down nearly 7% from last year alone. The truth is that medical malpractice insurance rates have less to do with verdicts and settlements and much more to do with the amount of money an insurance company can make investing the premiums they receive. The insurance industry’s data confirms this. The average number of payments and the average amount of each individual payout has remained steady over the last 15 years. The price of malpractice has fluctuated up and down based on competition or lack of competition between malpractice insurance companies, the stock market and the insurance industry economics.
Q. What is wrong with allowing the judge, after the jury renders its verdict, to set a cap on damages of $250,000?
A. Let’s look at what a “cap” is. It is a limit on the amount of money a jury can provide in every case, regardless of how severe the injury was, or how great the negligence. For example, even if a medical provider disregarded all the rules of proper patient care, his or her unfortunate patients would receive the same amount of damages for the death of a child, the abuse of a grandparent in a nursing home, loss of limbs, blindness, paraplegia or gross disfigurement. The same cap would apply if a surgeon operates under the influence of alcohol or drugs and harms a patient; if a hospital mixes up patient files, causing someone to have unnecessary surgery; or if a patient gets a lethal dose of the wrong drug because of negligent record keeping. Jurors should decide what is fair in cases involving serious injuries. Do you think legislatures or insurance companies that lobby for these caps should say what your life is worth?