The results of an analysis of the medical malpractice payouts during 2012 that are reported in the National Practitioner Data Bank have been recently published. The analysis found that there were 12,142 total medical malpractice payouts in the United States during 2012, representing $3.6 billion in medical malpractice payouts. Forty-five percent of the total medical malpractice payouts were related to inpatient incidents, 41% were for outpatient incidents, and 9% percent involved both inpatient and outpatient incidents.
The total medical malpractice payouts for 2012 was 3.4% lower than the total medical malpractice payouts for 2011. There has been a steady decline in the total amount of medical malpractice payouts each year since 2003 (by comparison, from 1998 to 2001, the total amount of medical malpractice payouts in the United States increased by 46%).
Five states represented 48% of the total medical malpractice payouts: Florida ($203,671,100), New Jersey ($206,668,250), California ($222,926,200), Pennsylvania ($316,167,500), and, New York ($763,088,250). Ninety-three percent of the medical malpractice payouts were for settlements and 5% were made in payment of medical malpractice judgments.
The U.S. states with the highest per capita medical malpractice payouts for 2012 were New York ($38.99), Pennsylvania ($24.77), New Jersey ($23.31), Massachusetts ($22.73), Connecticut ($21.01), Washington, D.C. ($19.71), Maryland ($19.40), Rhode Island ($17.35), New Hampshire ($17.02), and Illinois ($15.57).
The U.S. states with the lowest per capita medical malpractice payouts for 2012 were Alabama ($5.19), South Dakota ($4.95), Nevada ($4.91), North Carolina ($4.55), Vermont ($4.37), Indiana ($4.20), Mississippi ($4.17), Wisconsin ($3.08), North Dakota ($3.06), and Texas ($3.03).
Thirty-one percent of the medical malpractice payouts were for death claims, 19% for significant permanent injury, 18% for major permanent injury, 12% for quadriplegia, brain damage, life-long care, 8% for minor permanent injury, 7% for major temporary injury, 3% for minor temporary injury, 1% for emotional injury only, and 0.4% for insignificant injury.
Fifty-seven percent of all medical malpractice payouts were for females while 43% were for males. For both males and females, 39% were between the ages of 40 and 59. More females were between the ages of 20 and 39 (27%) than for males (17%). Only 3% of males and 4% of females were age 80 or over whereas 7% of females were 19 or younger compared to 16% for males.
The highest percentage of medical malpractice allegations for 2012 involved allegations of failure to diagnose (20%): 33% were related to diagnosis (for a total of $1,176,345,550 in medical malpractice payouts), 24% were related to surgery, 18% were related to treatment, 11% were related to obstetrics, 4% were related to medication, 3% were related to monitoring, 3% were related to anesthesia, and 4% were related to “other.”
While at first-blush it may seem to be “a good thing” that the total amount of medical malpractice payouts have been dropping each year since 2003, the reality is that in the year 2003 many states began imposing so-called tort reforms that made it more difficult for innocent victims of medical malpractice to obtain compensation for their injuries from their negligent health care providers, including caps (limits) placed on the amount of noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement) that victims of medical malpractice could recover despite what unbiased medical malpractice juries determined to be fair and reasonable compensation and despite how bad the injuries were (such as quadriplegia) and how long the injuries were expected to last (such as babies born with severe and permanent injuries as a result of medical malpractice that were expected to last their entire lifetime).
Furthermore, the statistics do not indicate or support that there is any less medical malpractice being committed in the United States or that patients are any safer as a result of medical malpractice reforms in those states that have implemented such draconian and unfair laws. In fact, a case could be made that physicians and other health care providers that have been determined to have committed medical malpractice in the past and may be less competent and more apt to injure their patients in the future will be drawn to those states that favor their financial interests more than their victims’ right to be fairly and adequately compensated for the losses and harms caused by incompetent (negligent) health care providers.
If you or someone you know may be the victim of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly consult with a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may agree to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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