Medical Malpractice Payments Lowest Since Records Began

Staff Writer | August 16th, 2013

Medical Malpractice Payments

Medical malpractice payouts fell to an all time low during 2012, according to a new Public Citizen report debunking the theory that a culture of litigation is to blame for rising health costs. The report looked at data from the government agency responsible for tracking malpractice payments, the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

The NPDB has been recording medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors since 1990. The document indicates that 2012 has been the least litigious year since records began, with:

  • The lowest number of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors (9,379)
  • The lowest total value of payments ($3.1 billion) if adjusted for inflation
  • Payouts dropping for the ninth consecutive year

The report also shows that, contrary to popular belief about the high number of ‘frivolous’ lawsuits, more than 80% of medical malpractice payments were to compensate for ‘death, catastrophic harm or serious permanent injuries.‘ Taylor Lincoln, research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and the author of the document, said:

“We now have a decade’s worth of data debunking the litigation canard. Policymakers need to focus on reducing medical errors, not reducing accountability for medical errors.”

Medical malpractice payments described by Congressman as ‘biggest cost driver’

Lincoln’s report and accompanying comments are a strong refutation of the  perception among many members of Congress that medical malpractice is to blame for rising healthcare costs. During the recent debate on healthcare reform, then-House Minority Leader and Ohio Republican John Boehner called medical malpractice the ‘biggest cost driver’ in the profession. Boehner and other Republicans have repeatedly sought to pass legislation that would restrict patients’ ability to file malpractice lawsuits.

Recent studies suggest that between one in four and one in seven hospital patients have suffered adverse events that could constitute grounds for compensation. If the number of medical malpractice payments correlated with the national medical bill, healthcare costs would have totaled $1.3 trillion in 2012 – less than half the actual figure of $2.8 trillion.

The Public Citizen report concluded that the disparity between litigation levels and healthcare costs is probably a result of state laws that have reduced patients legal rights to file lawsuits, rather than because of an improvement in treatment.

Filing New York medical malpractice lawsuits

One of just a few states with no ‘date of discovery rule’, New Yorkers seeking medical malpractice compensation must take legal steps within 30 months of the harm being caused.

A number of questions must be considered before filing a medical malpractice claim against healthcare professionals:

  •  Was the injury caused by the negligence or error of medical staff?
  •  Would the same injuries have occurred if no error had been made?
  •  Could something else have caused the injury?

To learn more about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, speak to an attorney from The Sanders Firm. Representing New Yorkers for more than 45 years, their legal team can explain your best options for pursuing legal recourse. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact their office at 1-800 FAIR PLAY.

Citizen.org, Continued Decrease in Medical Malpractice Payments Debunks Theory That Litigation Is to Blame for Soaring Medical Costs http://www.citizen.org/documents/medical-malpractice-payments-do-not-increase-health-care-costs-report-2013.pdf