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Medical Malpractice Payments at Record Low – July 28, 2012

Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., issued a report this month indicating that medical malpractice payments in 2011 were at the lowest level on record.  Public Citizen based the report on data analyzed from the National Practitioner Data Bank which tracks the payments for malpractice paid on behalf of doctors. The payments, adjusted for inflation, were at the lowest level since 1991, which was the earliest full year for which records are available.

The data indicates that there is little evidence that medical malpractice payments are responsible for increases in the cost of healthcare.

The report found that for the year 2011:

The number of malpractice payments made on behalf of physicians for the year was 9,758 payments and has fallen for eight straight years, representing the lowest number on record.

The overall value of the 9,758 payments, adjusted for inflation was 3.2 billion dollars. This amount represents the lowest value since 1998.

The average size of the payment made on behalf of doctors was roughly $327,000 which represents a decline from previous years.

Eighty percent of the payments were awarded for death, catastrophic harm or serious permanent injuries from medical negligence, contradicting claims of “frivolous” litigation.

The medical malpractice payments represented only .12 percent of all national health care costs – the lowest on record.

Despite the decline in medical negligence litigation, health care costs rose, which indicates that litigation is not tied to overall health care costs and that patients should not expect reductions in costs from reduced litigation.

Considering that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found serious injuries were suffered annually by 700,000 Medicare patients, with 80,000 of these resulting in fatal consequences, less than 10,000 medical payments made in 2011 indicates that the large majority of patients injured by medical negligence are not being compensated. The cost of these uncompensated injuries and deaths are borne by the victims, their insurance companies or generally by the taxpayers.

Total costs of litigation for medical malpractice by doctors and hospitals measured by the insurance premiums paid amounted to only .36 percent of total health care expenditures in 2010, the last year for which data is available.

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical negligence, contact the experienced professionals at Padberg, Corrigan and Applebaum for a free evaluation of your legal rights.

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