Malpractice claims don't cost as much as you might think

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Despite the perception that “frivolous” medical malpractice suits are taxing healthcare systems in Ohio and elsewhere, new research shows these suits may be less burdensome than previously thought. In fact, a recent review shows that malpractice suits account for just $1.4 billion each year, an amount that accounts for just 1 percent of American health care costs.

Scientists and policymakers are fighting the notion that scores of $100 million payouts are causing problems throughout our nation’s health care system. In fact, the costs are being driven up by an unprecedented number of unnecessary and expensive tests. This is known as “defensive medicine,” a practice that is becoming increasingly common among physicians who are attempting to avoid malpractice suits. Those defensive methods are costing more than $60 billion annually.

The vast majority of the catastrophic claims that net payouts higher than $1 million are achieved when the victim is killed or injured under the age of 1 year. Those payouts are high because the paralyzed or otherwise injured victim must receive intensive life-long care. Those malpractice claims are still relatively rare, however, considering the overall cost of medical errors in the U.S. today. It is important to remember most catastrophic injury claims involve a physician who has had a previous claim filed against his or her practice.

Data from recent studies show legal reforms should not focus on reducing the rights of patients who seek malpractice compensation; rather, physicians should receive additional protections and should be encouraged to practice cost-reduction methods. These reductions will result from reducing the overuse of unnecessary diagnostic tests.

If you have suffered an injury at the hands of a physician, you should not hesitate to seek financial compensation for your discomfort. Get the money you deserve for your extra medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other claims by consulting a qualified personal injury attorney. You do not have to suffer in silence after your medical injury.

Source:  www.insurancejournal.com, “Medical malpractice payouts not driving up health costs: study” No author given, May. 20, 2013