It is no secret that health care costs have gone up dramatically over the last few decades. The health care industry likes to blame the uptick in costs on rising medical malpractice insurance premiums, stoked (the industry says) largely by lawyers filing lawsuits on behalf of their clients.
Many health care experts have openly doubted this stance. Now, a new survey from the consumer group Public Citizen proves that the health care industry's claim is far from the truth.
Public Citizen analyzed data from the federal government's National Practitioner Data Bank and discovered that malpractice payments sunk to an all-time low in 2011. In fact, medical malpractice payments have fallen for the last eight years in a row.
Other findings from the report include the following:
- Approximately 80 of malpractice payments resulted from suits related to patient deaths, catastrophic harm and permanent injury, disproving assertions about frivolous medical malpractice claims
- Medical malpractice payments comprise just 0.12 percent of total U.S. health care costs, the lowest portion ever
- The average size of payments was reduced
- Health care costs continue to rise in spite of the reduced litigation and actual payments
So what is the bottom line? If you feel you have a medical malpractice issue, talk with an attorney. Medical malpractice law exists to protect the rights of patients who have been injured by the negligence of a medical professional or care facility. Do not let news reports and claims of frivolous lawsuits intimidate you into keeping silent.
Source: Insurance Journal, "Malpractice Claims at Record Low, Not Driving Health Costs: Consumer Group," July 13, 2012.