Despite false perceptions created by medical malpractice insurance companies and doctors in the United States that medical malpractice claims and medical malpractice payments in the U.S. are out-of-control, the number of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of physicians fell in 2010 for the seventh consecutive year, to the lowest level since the number of medical malpractice payments have been tracked by the National Practitioner Data Bank beginning in 1990. (The drop was 5% from 2009 to 2010 and the number of medical malpractice payments were 19.6% fewer in 2010 than in 1991.)
The total amount of medical malpractice payments made in 2010 were the lowest since 1998.
While health care spending increased by 90% between 2000 and 2010, medical malpractice payments fell by 11.9% during the same time period. (For 2010, medical malpractice payments to victims fell to the lowest percentage on record — 0.13% of total national health care costs.)
While doctors and their medical malpractice insurance companies try to convince you that medical malpractice claims are “frivolous,” the facts show otherwise: in 2010, 82.1% of medical malpractice payments to victims were for “significant permanent injuries” such as major permanent injuries, quadriplegia, brain damage, injuries requiring life-long care, or death.
In what reality is brain damage or death “frivolous”?
It is estimated that more than 700,000 Medicare patients experience a serious, preventable, adverse event every year. Of those patients, almost 80,000 will die from preventable adverse events that contribute to their deaths. The number of medical malpractice payments made in 2010 would equal about 1% of Medicare patients who experienced serious, avoidable injuries.
Nearly one-third of hospital admissions will involve medical errors or adverse events.
The total amount of medical malpractice insurance premiums in 2009 were only 0.40% of the national health care costs in 2009.
While the total of the medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors in 2009 was 8.7% lower than in 2000, medical malpractice insurance premiums were 56.2% higher in 2009 than in 2000.
The statistics above are from a May 2011 report from Public Citizen. Public Citizen is a national non-profit organization with more than 225,000 members and supporters that represents consumer interests through lobbying, litigation, administrative advocacy, research, and public education on a broad range of issues including consumer rights in the marketplace, product safety, financial regulation, safe and affordable health care, campaign finance reform and government ethics, fair trade, climate change, and corporate and government accountability.
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