The Real Issues Behind the Medical Malpractice Crisis

 

A recent press release from the Center for Justice & Democracy brings to light the stunning frequency of medical errors and the implications of this trend.  The conclusion? Our nation’s medical malpractice “crisis” is not due to lawsuits; it’s the cause of medical malpractice itself.

The Center for Justice & Democracy re-caps major medical malpractice studies to reveal several disturbing trends in the medical industry: medical errors are alarming and costly, the most serious errors often go unreported and malpractice lawsuits are often dropped.

Alarming and Costly Errors. The release cited one study from the US Department of Health and Human Services showing that 1 in 7 Medicare beneficiaries discharged from hospitals in 2008 experienced an adverse event related to medical malpractice. Furthermore, it was determined that 44 percent of these events were preventable, yet the cost for these mistakes is a burdensome $4.4 billion per year.

Major Errors Go Unreported. According to the press release, states other than New York and Pennsylvania (which have sophisticated error-reporting systems) didn’t account for 75-95 percent of harmful events.

Lawsuits are Often Dropped. Although malpractice lawsuits attract substantial media attraction, the studies here suggest “long term data show a 15 percent decrease in medical malpractice filing in general jurisdictions courts in seven states from 1999 to 2008.” Despite the notoriety of these cases, medical malpractice claims are actually declining.

These are only a fraction of the studies outlined in the press release, but it’s clear that pointing the finger at trial lawyers won’t solve the alarming rate or costs of medical mistakes. For the full report from the Center of Justice & Democracy, click here.