Early this year, the American Association for Justice, the nation’s premier trial law organization, put out it’s report Medical Negligence: The Role of America’s Civil Justice System in Protecting Patients’ Rights. This report relies upon published data from unbiased sources, such as the Institute of Medicine, the Congressional Budget Office, the New England Journal of Medicine, Archives of Surgery, the Office of the Inspector General and many other organization, to clearly show that there is no crisis in the U.S. of too many lawsuits. The crisis is too much medical negligence.
A few facts:
Medical Negligence kills 98,000 patients per year. That is more than diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, Influenza and Pneumonia. Only heart disease, cancer stroke and pulmonary conditions kill more people than malpractice. Hundreds of thousands more suffer injuries.
The cost of medical malpractice suits amounts to less than 1% of the money spent on medicine in this country. In fact, only 0.3%. Government administration amounts to 10.5% of the cost. Hospitals and physicians invest 200 times more into their facilities than they pay out in medical malpractice.
Between 2004 and 2006, it is estimated that 238,337 people died as the result of medical malpractice. In that same period, only 38,363 payouts were made to victims of medical malpractice.
80% of the victims of medical malpractice suffer death, or major or substantial injuries as a result of medical negligence. 3% suffer no injury at all and 17% suffer minor injuries.
Caps on payouts in lawsuits DO NOT make doctors flee those states that do not have caps, as many would have you believe. In fact, states without medical malpractice lawsuit limits have an average of 349 doctors per 100,000 citizens. In states with caps, that number drops to 288.
Doctors are not benefitting from limits and restrictions on lawsuits, malpractice insurance companies are. From 2000 to 2006 the amount that malpractice insurance carriers have collected from doctors has gone up 121%. In that same period, the amount they have paid out on claims has gone down by 15%. As always, the insurance companies are profiting, not anyone else.
Our civil justice system protects patients. Fight to keep this vital check on medical errors.