Patients for Fair Compensation recently released a study detailing the costs of medical malpractice nationwide. According to the study, healthcare providers spent $31 billion in premiums in 2011. The exorbitant amount of money was spent by providers defending medical malpractice claims. Only 20% of those $31 billion in premiums was paid out to the patients who actually suffered harm from medical negligence. The balance went to attorneys' fees and administrative costs.
The chairman of the Patients for Fair Compensation, Richard L. Jackson, had some harsh criticism for United States health care industry. He said, "You can't find a more ineffective system for compensating injured patients than what we have in the United States . . . We take in far too much money and get so few dollars to medically injured persons. The system is just not working for patients." There are also the increased costs for "defensive" procedures, which are those tests and exams that doctors perform as preventative measures to ensure that medical malpractice claims will not be brought, or if brought, will be dismissed. Jackson's organization estimates that more than $650 million is spent on these defensive practices. Stated differently, the reason for this is because of how hard and often the defense attorneys and doctors fight a med mal case rather than pay the injured person reasonable compensation on the front end!
Data for the study was gathered by Bioscience Valuation of Germany, which made its methodology and a fact sheet available for public evaluation. "Total malpractice costs were taken from Towers Perrin's 2009 Update on U.S. Tort Cost Trends. Trends in paid claim volume and total indemnity payments were estimated based on Physician Insurers Association of America's Claim Trend Analysis 2011 Edition."
The skyrocketing costs of medical malpractice can have serious consequences on the ability of future patients to collect when they have been injured by medical negligence. The more healthcare professionals have to pay in malpractice premiums, the more the costs are passed on to the patient, escalating the costs of healthcare for everyone. That, at least, is the argument made by those who seek to reform medical malpractice nationwide.
In all these conversations about rising costs, it's important to remember that malpractice is a serious concern for all of those in the healthcare industry, especially for the patients who have to bear the brunt of the doctor's mistakes. If you hae a question regarding a medical malpractice issue, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Kobs & Philley, PLLC at (601) 856-7800.