The Yiddish term “chutzpah,” which means shameless audacity, can be best explained by the following example: after a young man was found guilty of brutally killing his parents, he begged the sentencing judge for leniency, noting that he was an orphan.
Chutzpah may best describe the Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (“Fund”), which was legislatively created in 1975 and whose stated mission is “to provide excess medical malpractice coverage to Wisconsin health care providers and to ensure that funds are available to compensate injured patients.”
Wisconsin’s draconian medical malpractice “reforms” have led to only 84 medical malpractice claims being filed in Wisconsin during 2014 (down from 140 in 2013 and a far cry from the 294 Wisconsin medical malpractice cases filed in 1999). As a result, the Fund’s coffers have ballooned to more than $1.2 billion. The Fund’s assets have almost doubled since 2009, when its assets were $645 million. But this should not be a surprise to anyone: the Fund paid out on only three medical malpractice claims between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, for a total of $13 million (for the remainder of 2014, the Fund paid an additional $6.3 million).
Meanwhile, the medical malpractice insurance company that issues the most medical malpractice insurance policies in Wisconsin enjoyed net profits in 2014 in the amount of $81.4 million, an increase from $72 million in net profits for 2013.
Wisconsin medical malpractice laws require that Wisconsin medical malpractice claims be initially filed for review by a medical mediation panel before a Wisconsin medical malpractice victim can file a medical malpractice case in court. Requests for panel review dropped to 118 in 2014, down from 161 in 2013 (there were 410 Wisconsin medical malpractice claims submitted for medical mediation in 1987, the first year that it was required).
Wisconsin’s medical malpractice reforms have so hindered and harmed medical malpractice victims in Wisconsin that it is almost impossible to find a Wisconsin medical malpractice lawyer to handle a medical negligence claim unless the damages are so great and the liability is airtight, leaving many other Wisconsin medical malpractice victims without legal representation (approximately one-third of the Wisconsin medical malpractice claims submitted to medical mediation panels in 2013 and in 2014 were so done without the assistance of a lawyer).
Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face
Wisconsin’s history of medical malpractice reforms, which have financially benefited the Wisconsin medical community at the expense of medical malpractice victims in Wisconsin, are fraught with needlessly self-destructive efforts that epitomizes an over-reaction to a perceived problem that did not exist. Nonetheless, Wisconsin is still left with the underlying problem that the medical malpractice reforms did not address and did nothing to cure: Wisconsin’s medical malpractice reform efforts have failed to focus on addressing and eliminating the causes of medical negligence in Wisconsin — “reforms” that insulate bad medical providers from personal responsibility for bad medical care that needlessly harms patients do nothing to improve medical care or patient safety in Wisconsin.
Some Additional Thoughts On Wisconsin’s Medical Malpractice Reform Statistics
A recent history of fewer payments to Wisconsin medical malpractice victims does not mean that there are fewer incidents of medical negligence leading to injuries and losses.
A reduction in the number of medical malpractice claims filed in Wisconsin does not mean that the practice of medicine has become any safer for patients after medical malpractice reforms were implemented in Wisconsin.
Granting special privileges and advantages to medical providers at the expense of patients harmed by medical negligence is an attack on equal justice and blind fairness for everyone, no matter who they are, how much political power they have, or how much their lobbyists are paid to sway legislators to pass laws that protect them and harm everyone else.
If you have been seriously injured as a result of medical negligence in Wisconsin or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in Wisconsin or in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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