Rhode Island News

Study shows Rhode Island medical malpractice “crisis” unfounded

According to a Public Citizen press release, the Rhode Island medical malpractice “crisis” is due to repeat offender doctors and the overall insurance premiums and payments to Rhode Island medical malpractice victims have actually decreased according to studies. There is a large misconception according to the study that shows Rhode Island doctors are actually paying less in malpractice insurance premiums than in 1992 if taking into account inflation.

The report should be taken into great consideration while determining Rhode Island medical malpractice laws. The U.S. Senate may consider medical malpractice measures nationwide that would cap the awards given for pain and suffering damages victims experience. Key highlights of the Rhode Island medical malpractice include:

  • Medical errors cause 164 to 365 preventable deaths in Rhode Island each year. These errors cost residents, families and communities $63 million to $108 million annually in lost wages, lost productivity and increased health care costs. In contrast, medical malpractice insurance costs Rhode Island’s doctors less than $22 million annually.

  • Rhode Island’s doctors paid $21.6 million in premiums for malpractice insurance in 2001, compared to $19.5 million in 1996, an increase of 11 percent. Adjusting for medical inflation, which was 19.8 percent during the same period, and, the growing number of physicians in the state, this represents a significant decline in actual dollars.

  • According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, the number of medical malpractice payments to patients by Rhode Island doctors declined 21 percent, from 73 in 1997 to 58 in 2001.

  • Annual malpractice payments to patients by Rhode Island insurers have decreased when inflation is considered. The amount of malpractice payments made to Rhode Island patients was $22.8 million in 2001, a $1.7 million or 8 percent increase over $21.1 million in 1992, equaling 0.9 percent a year. However, during this same period, costs for medical care increased 47 percent nationwide, an average of 5.2 percent a year

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