H.R. 1215 – Closing the Courthouse Doors to Victims

mederrorscausedeath12The American Association for Justice reports H.R. 1215, the massive medical malpractice bill that also applies to nursing home and drug and device cases, will be debated on the House floor next week. This is the bill that caps non-economic damages at $250,000, eliminates joint liability for economic and non-economic loss, caps attorney fees, has a restrictive statute of limitations and says that a doctor and a pharmaceutical company cannot be named in the same lawsuit.  The bill is very preemptive and applies limits regardless of the number of parties, the causes of action or the theory of liability.

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in America. Capping damages prevent victims from getting compensation for injuries that deserve compensation for. It also increases your tax burden while protecting big insurance and allowing them to profit off of malpractice.

The first thing to note is that when suing in the medical malpractice arena, you are not typically suing a doctor, nurse or healthcare professional personally. More often than not, you are suing their insurance company. The insurance companies don’t want you to know this. But it’s true.

Caps only serve to help insurance companies profit, while passing the buck to the victim or ultimately the taxpayer. Take for instance a medical malpractice case where a child will need lifetime care due to a birth injury. It could cost millions to provide care for the child over the course of the child’s life because of the malpractice. Damages caps prevent a jury from awarding more than $250,000 to cover this cost. Once the $250,000 has been spent, victims are often forced onto public aid, increasing the tax burden. This prevents insurance companies from sharing the burden of the mistakes made by those who committed malpractice. It also allows insurance companies to profit off of the malpractice committed because they know they will only have to pay small amounts for the most devastating injuries.

H.R 1215 prevents victims from getting compensated while protecting big insurance and passing the buck to taxpayers. Tell your Representative in Congress that you won’t stand for a bill that robs taxpayers to allow insurance to profit and leaves victims by the wayside.

Medical Malpractice: The 1% of Doctors

The New England Journal of Medicine has analyzed data that 1% of physicians account for approximately 32% of paid medical malpractice claims. The data – which was pulled from the National Practitioner Data Bank – shows that over a recent 10-year period, a small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid malpractice claims.

A study of 70,000 malpractice claims against approximately 55,000 doctors from 2005 through 2014, the Journal analyzed data with the hope of understanding the distribution of malpractice claims among physicians.

Among all of the physicians with paid claims, 84% incurred only one malpractice claim during the study period, which accounted for 68% of all paid claims. Of the remaining physicians, 16% had at least two paid claims during the relevant time frame, accounting for 32% of the claims.The last 4% of doctors had at least three paid claims (if not more), accounting for 12% of the claims.

Physicians who had three paid medical malpractice claims have three times the risk of incurring another paid medical malpractice claim in the future. Practitioner speciality also plays a role: the risk of malpractice among neurosurgeons, for example, was four times as great as the risk among psychiatrists.

The Journal’s conclusion boils down to this startling fact: “A small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid [medical] malpractice claims.”

Source: 1% of Physicians Account for One-third of Paid Medical Malpractice Claims | The National Trial Lawyers

Avoidable Medical Errors: The Third Leading Cause of Death in America

The Center for Justice & Democracy reports that according to the report, published in the Journal of Patient Safety, ‘between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death,’ the study says. Only heart disease and cancer cause more deaths in America than avoidable medical errors.

Source: Marshall Allen, “How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?” ProPublica, September 19, 2013, cited in CJ&D’s Briefing Book: Medical Malpractice – By The Numbers (p. 77)

Source: Spotlight: Avoidable Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in America | centerjd.org