According to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) data, 2011 had the lowest amount of reported medical malpractice lawsuits since 1991. This information on the surface suggests that medical practice has improved, thus leading to fewer claims. Both consumer advocate groups and tort reform groups, usually on opposing sides, agree that the numbers are misleading.
Why Are The Numbers Lower?
Although it would be wonderful to think that these claims are lower due to increased health care standards, there are other reasons these numbers have decreased. Although no one can say for sure, there are a few theories on the reasons.
- Less claims being filed. Due to litigation restrictions, it is thought that many malpractice claims are being dismissed or not filed at all. This means that victims of medical malpractice are paying for their own health care and treatments that were caused by physician errors.
- Claims not reported. It is also possible that large institutions like hospitals suppress the doctors name or terminate the doctors involved in malpractice suits in an effort to hide the malpractice suits from their records. This would cause these suits to not get filed with the NPDB.
Protecting the Rights of Victims of Medical Negligence
Tort reform advocates would have you believe that malpractice suits are the cause of high medical care cost in the U.S. However, of the claims that were reported to the NPDB for 2011, 80% of them were for wrongful death or severe permanent injuries. On top of that, malpractice litigation costs for 2010 were only a fraction of 1% of the total national health care costs. Continuing to work for towards laws that restrict legal means of obtaining compensation for medical errors only hurts the people who have already been harmed.
Victims of medical malpractice need the option to have their case to be heard by a jury of their peers. Meritorious claims that are being dismissed due to litigation laws or restrictions are causing these people to be victimized twice, once by the doctor and again by legal system that is supposed to be there to protect them.
For example, a 36-year old woman who was recovering from a thyroid operation developed a hematoma in the recovery room and went into respiratory arrest, which caused the women not to be able to speak. The nurse in the room did not immediately call a doctor when the women could not speak. Although the woman was eventually resuscitated, it was delayed long enough that the lack of oxygen caused permanent brain damage. Although this case seems fairly straightforward as a case of a grievous medical error, the case was dismissed.
It is important for victims to have a way to get the medical treatments and compensation needed to care for harm done at the hands of physicians. Only by having the opportunity to bring the facts into a court of law and plead their case can victims get the vindication they deserve.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys
In an era where meritorious medical negligence cases are commonly overlooked by both decision makers and jurors, it is essential to have a battle-tested advocate working on your behalf. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers handles medical negligence cases involving all aspects of medical care. Our attorneys have achieved national recognition for their work on cases involving birth injuries and cerebral palsy. Put our team to work for you and your family.