Well, we have reached a significant milestone — one complete year of our daily blog postings (we started daily posting in our Blog on March 5, 2011 and have posted every day since). When we first started to blog, we thought that it might be difficult to find relevant, interesting information to discuss on a daily basis, but our concern was misplaced (fortunately). In fact, we have thoroughly enjoyed, learned from, and looked forward to researching matters for our postings.
Without our constant research into medical malpractice issues and other medically-related matters, we would not have become aware of the facts behind the constant onslaught of attacks against medical malpractice victims’ rights and the increasing elevation of medical malpractice wrongdoers’ financial interest over their innocent victims’ right to be fully compensated for their permanent injuries, for their life-long and constant pain and suffering, and the unending devastating effect on their families and loved ones.
In the last six months alone, we have posted many blogs that have addressed critical issues regarding medical care and medical malpractice in the United States, including:
We discussed the West Virginia orthopedic surgeon who had 124 medical malpractice claims filed against him resulting from only 7 months of medical practice in a West Virginia hospital, which cost the hospital’s corporate owner approximately $100 million in medical malpractice payments (see our Blog posting for February 20, 2012).
We brought light to the fact that nearly 4.5 hospital acquired infections occur for every 100 hospital admissions in the United States each year, costing the healthcare system between $5.7 billion and $6.8 billion per year (figures for 2007). And that hospital acquired infections are among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, effecting 1 in 20 hospitalized patients and accounting for 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths (figures for 2002). (See our Blog posting for February 28, 2012).
We tried to dispel misperceptions such as the belief that poor patients sue for medical malpractice more often than others (see our Blog posting for March 2, 2012).
We reported on the $285 million settlement of approximately 120 product liability lawsuits brought against a giant international pharmaceutical company for claims that it sold over-sized vials of generic propofol to endoscopy clinics in Nevada while allegedly knowing that the vials were being used for multiple patients that allowed the spread of hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections despite the markings on the vials that they be used for single-use only. (See the Blog posting for February 23, 2012).
We cited official statistics regarding medical malpractice claims in the United States (“One in three Americans have reported that they or a family member had been a victim of medical malpractice. One in five reported that a medical error caused serious health problems or death….a report released by the U.S. government in 2010 found that one in seven Medicare patients are injured during hospital stays and that adverse events contribute to 180,000 deaths each year, costing the U.S. government $4.4 billion per year. One survey found that 70% of patients who suffered from a medical error were not informed about the error. Studies have shown that most medical malpractice claims are meritorious and that 97% involved medical injury and 80% involved serious disability or death.”) See our Blog posting for September 19, 2011.
We provided additional statistics regarding medical malpractice in the United States: “An often-repeated statistic is that medical malpractice (preventable medical errors) in the United States causes approximately 98,000 deaths per year and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Despite these statistics, there are very few medical malpractice claims filed relative to the number of potential claims. Research has found that the vast majority of medical malpractice claims filed are meritorious. Almost one-half of physicians admit that they have not reported their medical errors or incompetence. About six percent of physicians are responsible for almost sixty percent of medical malpractice claims in the United States.”
Further statistics regarding medical malpractice in the U.S. are: “The costs of medical malpractice claims is less than two percent of all health care costs in the United States. Completely restricting medical malpractice claims would lower health care costs by less than one-half of one percent. The number of medical malpractice claims have remained relatively stable over the last several decades but medical malpractice insurance premiums charged by medical malpractice insurance companies during that time increased quickly, resulting in high premium surpluses enjoyed by the insurance companies. Health care costs have not been reduced in states that have enacted caps on damages in medical malpractice cases but hospitals and medical malpractice companies have enjoyed earnings in the tens of millions of dollars without reducing their charges to patients and physicians in those states. The number of physicians in the United States is increasing and outpacing the rate of population growth in the United States. There are twice as many physicians per 100,000 population in the United States now than in the 1960s. The ratio of physicians to 100,000 population is highest in those states that do not have caps on medical malpractice damages. Two-thirds of physicians who have had ten or more medical malpractice payments have never been subject to disciplinary action (almost one-half of hospitals have never reported a disciplinary action to the National Practitioner Data Bank).” From our Blog posting for September 18, 2011.
We have discussed many drug issues as well, such as:
— a warning regarding a counterfeit version of the cancer medication Avastin (Blog posting on February 21, 2012);
— the abuse of prescription painkillers (“The sale of prescription painkillers in the United States has more than tripled since 1999. Over 36,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2008, which included over 20,000 who died from prescription drug overdoses.” Blog posting on February 26, 2012);
— the safety of generic versions of brand-name drugs (see our Blog posting on February 13, 2012);
— companies that overcharge for drugs (“A recently filed federal lawsuit claims that the largest drugstore chain, Walgreens, and a generic drug manufacturer, Par Pharmaceuticals Cos., overcharged insurance companies, union health and welfare funds, and self-insured employers for generic versions of Prozac, Zantac, and generic versions of other common prescription medications manufactured by Par by providing and billing for higher-priced capsules of the drugs rather than the tablets prescribed by physicians.” Our Blog posting for January 16, 2012);
— critical drug shortages in the United States (“The GAO reported that drug shortages have increased each year from 2006 through 2010, with a record number of drug shortages in 2010 and the pace of drug shortages in 2011 that is expected to surpass 2010. There were a total of 1,190 drug shortages reported from January 1, 2001 through June 20, 2011, and 65% of the shortages involved drugs that were in short supply more than once. The average drug shortage lasts more than 9 months (286 days).” As reported in our December 17, 2011 Blog posting);
— additional statistics regarding drug shortages in the U.S.: “The shortage of sterile injectables represented 74% of the drug shortages during 2010: 54% of the shortages in sterile injectables during 2010 were due to contamination, particulates, and impurities; 21% were due to delays or manufacturing capacities; 11% due to discontinuation; 5% due to raw materials issues; 4% due to an increase in demand due to another shortage; 3% due to the loss of a manufacturing site; and, 2% due to component problems or shortages. Only 7 manufacturers make up a large portion of the manufacturers of sterile injectables, which are often less attractive economically to produce.” As reported in our October 1, 12011 Blog posting;
— the manner in which large drug manufacturers are preventing lower cost generic drugs from becoming available to the public (“The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has reported that name-brand drug manufacturers will cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars over a 10 year period by paying generic drug manufacturers to delay their introduction of lower-cost generic alternatives to brand-name drugs. The FTC found that for the period from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011 (Fiscal Year 2011), drug companies entered into 28 potential pay-for-delay deals (there were a record 31 such deals in the prior fiscal year). The deals involved 25 different name-brand pharmaceutical products with combined U.S. annual sales greater than $9 billion.” See our Blog posting for October 27, 2011).
We noted research that found that most medical malpractice events go unreported (“A new report regarding a study of Medicare patients who were injured in hospitals found that only one in seven hospital errors were reported.”) See our Blog posting for January 14, 2012).
We reported on the egregious failure to discipline doctors who commit medical malpractice in the United States (“…the Medical Board’s failure to discipline 710 California doctors who were subject to discipline for wrongdoing by California hospitals and other health care organizations between September 1990 and December 31, 2009…102 of the 710 doctors had been determined by peer reviewers to be an immediate threat to the health or safety of patients…35% of the 710 doctors were repeat offenders…Of the 220 doctors in the United States found to be an immediate threat to health or safety of patients, almost half were California doctors.”) Read our Blog for January 3, 2012.
We brought to light the fact that medical malpractice insurance companies enjoy huge profits while at the same time raising the premiums they charge doctors and complaining about “frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits” (“The largest medical malpractice insurance company for medical malpractice claims against physicians and surgeons in the United States is The Doctors Company. The Doctors Company had 71,572 members, $4,060,651,000 in assets, and $1,228,237,000 in member surplus for 2010. The Doctors Company is so profitable that in 2011, it announced a $23 million dividend for its members. Since 1976, it has paid over $207 million in dividends, including over $100 million in the last five years alone. The Doctors Company reports that it pays damages in only 18% of the medical malpractice claims made against its members.”) Read our Blog for November 13, 2011.
We cited a report in our November 14, 2011 Blog that found that “Caps on noneconomic damages do not have any effect on the medical malpractice insurance premiums charged doctors. (In 2009, the average medical malpractice insurance premium was 1.8 times what it had been in 2001, both in states with caps and in states without caps.) Medical malpractice companies in all states in the United States have experienced increased profits. Medical malpractice companies in states that have caps (limits) on the amount that medical malpractice victims can recover experienced increasing profits at an even higher rate (24% higher) than the medical malpractice companies in states without caps (if medical malpractice insurance companies pay out less, they keep more profits). And the rate at which profits are increasing is greater in states with caps than states without caps.”
We reviewed the statistics regarding the effect of medical malpractice claims and the effect of caps (limits) on non-economic damages on doctors in the United States (“How have medical malpractice claims really affected doctors? For one thing, doctors are not packing their medical bags and becoming taxi drivers. A survey of high-risk medical specialists found that 43% stated that they would restrict or eliminate services because of medical malpractice claims but only 3% actually did what they said they would do. In 2009, there were a record 972,376 doctors in the United States, which was nearly 18,000 more than in 2008. In 2009, there were 317 doctors for every 100,000 in population – a record proportion. Has the imposition of caps (limits) on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases by some states resulted in more doctors practicing in those states than in states that don’t have the caps? The number of doctors per 100,000 population is 21% higher in those states without caps (349) than those states with caps (288). The average medical malpractice insurance premium is higher in those states with caps than for those states without caps (the average rate of profit for medical malpractice insurance companies in those states with caps is 25% higher than for those in states without caps). Recent increases in medical malpractice premiums were based on diminishing investment values and lower interest rates as opposed to medical malpractice claims payments – there is little if any correlation between medical malpractice payments and medical malpractice premiums.”) Read our September 20, 2011 Blog posting.
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