According to a recent report by the Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy organization, the number and the size of malpractice payments are on the decline. For instance, the peak year for medical malpractice payments was 2001 with 16,565 payments. In 2011, there were 9,758 payments.
Does the decline in medical malpractice cases and payments reflect better medical care?
No. What it does mean is that a smaller number of medical errors actually lead to litigation.
In 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services deduced that one-in-seven Medicare patients in hospital care experienced a serious adverse event. Furthermore, these adverse events contributed to the deaths of 1.5 percent of patients. More shockingly, 44 percent of adverse events were preventable.
Or to put it in perspective numerically, 700,000 Medicare patients experience a serious, preventable, adverse event every year, including nearly 80,000 suffering preventable adverse events that contribute to their deaths.
The critics might use the “frivolous lawsuits” card but the vast majority of medical malpractice payments pay damages for injuries that none of you would deem frivolous — negligence resulting in significant permanent injury, quadriplegia, brain damage, major permanent injury, the need for lifelong care, or death.
When malpractice victims don’t receive compensation, their medical costs must be covered by somebody whether it’s the victims or their families, their insurance companies, or us taxpayers