Recently, an article in the Huffington Post talked about the myth that medical malpractice claims are a primary contributor to high medical bills. This article aimed to shoot down that common misconception by pointing to data that illustrated the cost of medical malpractice in Birmingham and elsewhere has been dropping across the nation for the last 10 years.
In 2003, there were close to 17,00 paid medical malpractice claims in the U.S., totaling close to $5 billion. By 2011, the number of paid claims had dropped to less than 10,000 and the total payout was less than $3.5 billion. That’s about a 40 percent drop in the number of paid claims and a near 30 percent drop in the amount paid out.
The cost of medical malpractice insurance began to rise in the early 2000s after a period of essentially flat prices. Rate increases were precipitated in part by the growing size of claims, particularly in urban areas. Among the other factors driving up prices was a reduced supply of available coverage as several major insurers exited the medical malpractice business because of difficulty in making a profit.
But many are wondering how the costs of medical malpractice are falling if the costs for health care are rising? One of the most often cited reasons is defensive medicine. In many situations, doctors try to avoid malpractice suits by ordering additional tests — just to make sure.
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor (or other medical professional) who fails to competently perform his or her professional duties. The rules about medical malpractice — from when you must bring your lawsuit to whether you must notify the doctor ahead of time — vary from state to state.
A malpractice claim exists if a provider’s negligence causes injury or damage to a patient. However, experiencing a bad outcome isn’t always proof of medical negligence. Also, on occasion, health-care providers will inform a patient they have received substandard medical care, including mistakes involving a previous healthcare provider.
Most doctors and other medical professionals are capable, caring, compassionate individuals who work hard for the health of their patients. However, medical mistakes are far too common and the consequences can be devastating.
The mistake or omission can happen at any time during medical treatment. For example, your doctor may make a mistake diagnosing your illness, or she may not give you the proper treatment or medication. The key here is the standard of care. This is the generally accepted method or methods used by other medical professionals in the area to treat or care for patients under the same or similar circumstances.
Malpractice can range from improper surgery and treatment, to a failure to diagnose based on recognizable symptoms or to recommend that a patient see a specialist, or can be based on improper prescribing of drugs, defective medical devices or a multitude of other causes.
Hospital Infections and Alabama Medical Malpractice Claims, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, September 24, 2013
Judge: Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits to Continue, Despite Appeal, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, September 17, 2013