Dc News

Study shows DC medical malpractice payouts have declined

According to a new study by Public Citizen, the most recent data on physician malpractice payments in the District of Columbia reflects there is no connection between recently rising insurance rates for local doctors and medical malpractice lawsuits by patients.

The Public Citizen report also shows that the number of OB/GYNs has increased in recent years while the number of births by women of child bearing age has steadily declined. Still, there have been some complaints by District doctors and politicians regarding a medical liability “crisis” even though the total medical malpractice payment values to patients on behalf of District doctors has declined 52.5 percent from 1991 to 2004 when adjusted for medical inflation.

From 2001 to 2004, the so-called peak years of the “crisis,” according to proponents of medical malpractice limits, the decline was 64 percent. Director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, Frank Clemente, points to the group's report and says that while insurance companies have been increasing their rates on local doctors it is not a result of medical malpractice lawsuits filed by injured District patients.

Public Citizen's director, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, testified before the Committee on Health on the performance of the District of Columbia Board of Medicine yesterday, explaining how the D.C. Medical Board lacks legislative oversight, has inadequate funding and staff and lacks the authority to fully protect D.C. patients.

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