Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Barbara Holzer, Broadcast Manager
w. (202) 588-7716
bholzer@citizen.org

Karilyn Gower, Press Officer
w. (202) 588-7779
kgower@citizen.org

Symone Sanders, Communications Officer, Global Trade Watch division
w. (202) 454-5108
ssanders@citizen.org

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog
Facebook/publiccitizen

Follow us on Twitter

 

May 12, 2004

Fifth Vote on Malpractice Bill Follows Poor Health Care Quality Findings

Rand Institute Report Found Better-Quality Health Care In States That Medical Association Claims Are in Throes of Malpractice “Crisis”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will cast the fifth congressional floor vote on medical malpractice legislation in 14 months. The vote comes   only a week after a Rand Institute report found generally low-quality health care in the United States – care that is lower still in states with caps on lawsuit damages.

“The medical lobby has a lot of gall to be asking for favors from Congress,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “It should look in the mirror and address the health care quality problems identified in the Rand report, rather than asking for handouts.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) claims that malpractice lawsuits are creating “crisis” conditions in 19 states. Yet the Rand Institute gave its highest rating for health care quality to Seattle, located in one of those “crisis” states. Overall, Rand found that the quality of health care was higher in cities in six AMA “crisis” states that Rand studied than in two of the states the AMA says are “doing OK” – California and Indiana. In fact, the Rand report singled out Orange County, Calif., and Indianapolis, Ind., as delivering the lowest-quality cardiac care.

The House approved a malpractice bill last year, while the U.S. Senate rejected three different versions of the measure this year. All the bills would have arbitrarily limited the damages available to those injured by malpractice, which would greatly harm those patients who have been most injured by malpractice.

The Rand report studied patients’ medical records in 12 metropolitan areas and compared their care to recognized standards and quality indicators. It found that overall, patients receive only about 55 percent of the care recommended for their conditions.

But there were local variations, and in most categories, the best care was delivered in cities where the AMA claims a malpractice “crisis” exists: Miami (diabetes, pulmonary), Seattle (preventive), Cleveland and Syracuse(cardiac). The Rand Institute report is available at http://www.rand.org/news/press.04/05.04.html.

Preventable medical errors kill up to 100,000 people in the United States each year and injure hundreds of thousands more. But research shows that most malpractice payments are made by just a small number of doctors. Public Citizen’s analysis of National Practitioner Data Bank data shows that just 5.4 percent of doctors, all of whom have made two or more malpractice payouts, have been responsible for 52.6 percent of all payouts since September 1990. Just 2 percent of doctors, all of whom have made three or more malpractice payments, have been responsible for 31.1 percent of all payouts since September 1990.

Damage caps would do nothing to lower insurance rates; even insurers have said they would not lower malpractice premiums if damages were capped. Insurers raise malpractice premiums when the economic cycle dips. A solution, then, is for state medical boards to be more diligent in disciplining doctors who commit malpractice.

For more information about medical malpractice, visit www.medicalmalpracticefacts.org.

###

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.