4 Common Myths Surrounding Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
There are many myths concerning the issue of medical negligence lawsuits because many people are not informed about the actual facts surrounding this controversial topic. What follows are some of the more prevalent medical negligence myths and the facts that debunk those myths.
1. Filing a Malpractice Claim Will Drive Doctors Out of Business
Though clearly untrue, this myth has endured for many years even though it is not supported by fact. Economic data refutes this claim on its face. The number of practicing physicians has been rising for decades. In fact, the number of people becoming physicians is increasing more quickly than the population is growing. There are now twice as many doctors per 100,000 people compared to when the American Medical Association began to keep up with such figures in the 1960s.
2. Malpractice Claims Are Responsible for Driving Up the Cost of Healthcare
This particular myth is also patently false. In 2007, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that the whole amount spent in defense of claims and distributing compensation to medical negligence plaintiffs was only 0.3% of health care costs.
In light of that number, those focused on curtailing patients’ legal rights have argued that defensive medicine, or doctors issuing superfluous tests and procedures to hedge against the risk of litigation, is the real problem driving up healthcare.
The problem with this argument is that it is far more likely that healthcare providers are ordering unnecessary tests to drive up income than it is likely that they are trying to avoid the incidental expenses related to litigation.
3. Everyone That is Injured Sues Their Doctor
One persistent myth states that patients are too quick to file frivolous lawsuits against their doctors. In fact, the opposite is true. Two seminal studies found that there is actually an epidemic of medical negligence and that relatively few injured patients sue their healthcare providers. The number of medical negligence filings have actually decreased over time.
The National Center for State Courts found that tort cases make up around 6% of civil cases and that medical negligence cases account for around 3% of those torts.
Harvard scholars examined a number of closed medical malpractice claims and discovered that many injured patients sued to find out what went wrong in the course of their treatment, suggesting again that a doctor may often be responsible for his or her own lawsuit.
4. Malpractice Claims Drive Up Doctors’ Premiums
The National Bureau of Economic Research reported that malpractice payments paid out to claimants did not seem to be the cause of doctors’ premium increases. This point is further bolstered by the Americans for Insurance Reform who found that neither lawsuits, nor jury awards, nor any tort system costs justified the recent substantial premium increases being charged to doctors. The reports go on to suggest that the rising cost of malpractice insurance stems from insurance companies trying to recoup losses from their own poor investments of premium payments.
If you believe that you or someone you know have been injured by an act of medical negligence or for more information on the facts versus the myths in medical negligence cases, contact a qualified personal injury lawyer.