No longer are policy makers claiming that large leaps in health care costs are due to malpractice lawsuits. It is now the fear of litigation, according to a memorandum released by Public Citizen
Doctors are finding it necessary to practice ‘defensive medicine,’ ordering excessive tests and procedures for patients.
Let’s look at the facts:
- In 1999 it was reported that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die every year due to avoidable medical mistakes, according to the Institute of Medicine.
- In 2004 it was estimated that more than 190,000 people die annually due to medical mistakes, according to hospital rating company HealthGrades.
Patient Safety is a problem. An alarmingly big problem.
- Avoidable medical mistakes are reported to amount to between $17-29 billion in costs every year, according to IOM’s 1999 report
- Enforcing just 10 patient safety measures would save a $35 billion per year, according to Public Citizen 2009 study
With the statistics laid out it is easy to see that something should be done to hold the doctors and hospitals responsible for these outstanding costs. Why then is the problem being pushed as litigation and the proposed outcome resting with reducing patients’ legal rights?
The memorandum clearly illustrates key points that demonstrate the problem lies within the current medical malpractice litigation system.
The tough problem needs to be addressed. Patients are not receiving the correct amount if at all of compensation for medical malpractices. The current payments are at an all-time low and are only for serious outcomes. What is even more disturbing is that nothing is being done to prevent more medical errors in the future.
Public Citizen stated it best, “Policymakers from both parties should set their partisan instincts aside and reduce patients’ needs to seek redress instead of limiting their rights to it.”