A report issued last week by consumer watchdog group Public Citizen indicates that medical malpractice payouts reached all-time lows in 2008. Unfortunately, the decrease in malpractice payments does not appear to be related to advancements in patient safety, but rather to the fact that fewer injured patients are receiving fair compensation.
The report contains a number of stunning statistics. It is estimated that three to seven Americans die each year from medical malpractice for every one who receives payment on a malpractice claim. This is to say nothing of the patients who are injured, but do not die, as a result of medical malpractice. Even the victims who do ultimately prevail find themselves receiving lower payments for their injuries than in previous years.
Perhaps the most remarkable finding in the study is the overall cost of malpractice claims to the health care system. The cost of medical malpractice payouts accounts for 0.18 percent of the $2.1 trillion dollar American health care system. Even including all malpractice insurance premiums, the total is a paltry 0.6 percent of all national health care costs.
Medical malpractice remains as prevalent today as in previous years, yet the injured victims are receiving less and less compensation. Simply put, negligence is common and litigation is rare. Doctors and hospitals need to be held accountable for their carelessness. The cost to the system is minuscule compared to the cost to the individual victim seeking redress.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.