Medical malpractice costs to the system are surprisingly low


The cost of healthcare in America has been a focal point for general discussion, media coverage and political action for many years. As medical costs skyrocket and the safety of patients remains frequently in peril, Americans are struggling with how to decrease costs while increasing the quality of patient care. Unfortunately, the subject of medical malpractice payouts has gotten dangerously muddied during the course of this discussion.

Many people incorrectly assume that medical malpractice suits are wasteful and that their payouts are greatly contributing to the rising costs of medical care generally. In reality, neither of these assumptions is based in fact. Medical malpractice lawsuits serve to hold healthcare providers accountable for substandard care that significantly harms patients. And the malpractice claims that these victims receive are both necessary and not a drain on the system.

When a victim suffers malpractice, their personal injury claim most often amounts to the cost of related medical care and nothing more. Tragically, medical malpractice award caps have even left scores of victims unable to pay their related medical bills. In addition, these claims do not tax the system in the ways that most Americans may have been led to believe.

According to a study recently released by experts at Johns Hopkins, medical malpractice settlements and awards comprise much less than one percent of America’s annual medical expenditures. The healthcare system is in dire need of reform. However, the idea that victims of medical malpractice are somehow leading to the system’s decline and that they should not be allowed access to adequate compensation for their injuries is quite simply false.

Source: Claims Journal, “Catastrophic Malpractice Payouts Add Little to Health Care’s Rising Costs,” Johns Hopkins Medicine, May 2, 2013

Posted in Doctor Errors | Tagged , , |