The National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”) has published the official medical malpractice payments statistics for the U.S. for 2001 through 2011. The statistics are for medical malpractice payments made on behalf of “physicians,” which include medical doctors (MDs), physician interns/residents (MDs), osteopathic physicians (DOs), and osteopathic physician interns/residents (DOs). The medical malpractice payments made on behalf of physicians are required by federal law to be reported to the NPDB under most circumstances.
Medical malpractice payments made on behalf of hospitals and other medical facilities are not reportable to the NPDB. Therefore, the defense attorneys for medical malpractice claims that were filed naming both physicians (individuals) and hospitals or other medical facilities often request and obtain agreements from the attorneys for medical malpractice claimants to dismiss as named defendants in the medical malpractice lawsuits the individuals (MDs, DOs, etc.) in exchange for an agreement that the hospital or other medical facility will be responsible for the claims made against the individuals so that the medical malpractice payments that they make are not reported to the NPDB. As a result, the medical malpractice payments statistics reported by the NPDB do not nearly represent all of the medical malpractice payments made in the United States on a yearly basis.
What Do The Numbers Show?
There were 135,101 medical malpractice payments reports filed on behalf of physicians with the NPDB from 2001 through 2011. The largest number during the ten-year period was 15,925 for 2001, and the smallest number was 8,450 for 2011. The statistics showed that medical malpractice payments reports declined each year between 2001 and 2011, with the largest decline occurring between 2005 (13,396) and 2006 (11,677).
Do the medical malpractice payments statistics reflect that there was less medical malpractice occurring in the United States each year from 2001 through 2011? The short answer is “NO.” In fact, the NPDB reports that the number of “adverse action reports” filed with regard to physicians in the United States remained relatively steady during the ten-year period, ranging from 4,972 in 2001 to 5,637 in 2011.
One major reason for the declining number of medical malpractice payments reports being filed with the NPDB is the “tort reform” efforts that began in earnest in the early 2000s that (1) make it more difficult for potential medical malpractice claimants to file medical malpractice claims against those responsible for committing medical malpractice that caused injuries and (2) limit the amounts that medical malpractice victims can recover from the responsible medical malpractice defendants for their legitimate and documented losses and claims such as noneconomic damages (disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.) that make it much more difficult to find a medical malpractice lawyer to assist with medical malpractice claims.
Because tort reform measures (1) make it more difficult and more costly for medical malpractice victims to file their claims and to obtain compensation for their losses and injuries and (2) impose an artificial and arbitrary cap (limit) on the amounts that negligent medical malpractice defendants (or, more accurately under most circumstances, the medical malpractice insurance companies for the defendants) will be responsible to pay to their victims for their losses despite unbiased medical malpractice jurys’ verdicts, the number of medical malpractice payments reported to the NPDB does not indicate that there were decreasing incidents of medical malpractice in the United States between 2001 and 2011.
As more medical malpractice tort reform measures (and more restrictive tort reform measures) are imposed in more U.S. states, one would expect that the number of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of physicians in the United States that are required to be reported to the NPDB will continue to decline.
When medical malpractice may be the reason for your injuries and losses, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney to discuss your possible medical malpractice claim.
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