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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Not Causing Health Care Crisis

Despite outrageous claims made by tort reform advocates and medical lobbyists, medical malpractice lawsuits are not causing a crisis within the U.S. health care system, according to a report by Public Citizen, a non-profit advocacy organization.

The report, “The Great Medical Malpractice Hoax,” dismisses myths of increasing insurance premiums and decreasing number of practicing doctors used to limit the amount of damages sought by injured patients in courts.

The Real Health Care Crisis

Public Citizen claims that the real crisis is the lack of patient safety, the high rate of preventable medical mistakes, and the lack of liability for the small group of physicians who account for a large portion of malpractice payments. Public Citizen also offers federal and state governments and hospitals a number of recommendations to save lives and cut health care costs.

“Over the past few years, the Republican-led Congress has repeatedly attempted to curtail the legal rights of medical malpractice victims by capping damage awards and imposing other limits on access to the courts by consumers,” said Joan Claybrook, president of the organization. “This report shows that lawmakers were misguided; in fact, Congress should work to reduce medical errors.”

The report was an analysis of public information from the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) between 1990 and 2005. According to the report, the number of total malpractice payments paid on behalf of physicians actually decreased by 15.4 percent and the rate of payments per 100,000 victims declined by more than 10 percent, indicating that medical malpractice litigation is not hurting doctors.

Patient Safety Reform

Public Citizen suggests that in order to reduce preventable patient injury and death and the cost of health care, reforms should aim at decreasing medical mistakes and tightening doctor oversight and discipline.

According to the analysis, Congress should develop a countrywide mandatory reporting system of adverse events to allow hospitals to share information and correct faulty practices and systems.

Furthermore, computerized order entry systems should be put in place to prevent medication errors, and medical clinics and hospitals should limit doctors’ workweeks to decrease errors resulting from fatigue.

Public Citizen also urges Congress to enforce improved physician oversight for repeat medical malpractice offenders to endure dangerous doctors don’t practice in the U.S.

Injured by medical malpractice? Please contact us to learn how you may be eligible to recover your losses through a civil lawsuit. 

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