Medical Malpractice: The Crisis Is Not in the Courtroom
WASHINGTON, DC -- November 18, 2005 -- The medical malpractice crisis "has its origins in the operating room, not the courtroom," according to prominent Republican lawyer, Ken Connor (see Attack the Problem, Not the Patient, Center for a Just Society). He points to a study by the Institute of Medicine that shows that up to 98,000 Americans per year die from medical errors that could have been prevented. Also, some medical residents work 90-hour work weeks, leading to exhaustion and poor performance.
Medical malpractice payouts are not the cause of rising insurance premiums, according to various studies. The amount that insurers collected in medical malpractice premiums more than doubled from 2000--2004, while their claims payouts remained fairly flat (Falling Claims and Rising Premiums, Center for Justice and Democracy). Some medical malpractice insurers even increased their premiums while both their claims payments and projected future claims payments decreased. For example, Healthcare Indemnity, Inc. increased its premiums by $173 million, or 88%, while its claims payments fell by $74 million, or 32%. In 2004, it paid out only 43 cents in claims for each premium dollar it collected.
Another study found that increases in medical malpractice payouts were consistent with increases in health care costs, and did not cause spikes in insurance premiums (Health Aff (Millwood). 2005 May 31). The researchers looked at 184,506 payments made between January 1991 and the end of December 2003. Those states in which medical malpractice payments grew the most were not the states in which doctors' insurance premiums grew most rapidly.
Ways to Reduce Medical Malpractice Insurance Premium Rates
- A "three strikes and you're out" program for negligent doctors.
- Creating a "risk pooling" method of insurance coverage that places doctors with a history of neglect in a "high risk" pool separate from those with good track records.
- Increasing medical staffing at hospitals and setting more reasonable working hours for medical residents.
- Having doctors better police their own ranks.
"The medical malpractice crisis will not be solved by stripping innocent victims of their rights," Mr. Connor concludes. "The solution is to address the root cause of the problem in a common sense and business-like fashion."
Medical Malpractice Claims
To learn more about medical malpractice lawsuits and your legal rights, see Medical Malpractice Claims. If you have been injured because of a physician's negligence, please feel free to contact us. We have been handling medical/legal cases for over 20 years and work tirelessly to protect the rights of our clients.