Center for Justice & Democracy Releases New Briefing Book: Medical Malpractice - by the Numbers

Insurance News Net
Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School released today its newly updated briefing book, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: BY THE NUMBERS. The third update since CJ&D first began compiling the latest statistics and research on issues related to medical malpractice (last updated in December 2013), this fully-sourced new volume has expanded to 110 pages with nearly 500 footnotes linking to original sources.

Topics include: medical malpractice litigation, health care costs and "defensive medicine," physician supply and access to health care, medical malpractice insurance, patient safety, and special problems for vets and military families. Among the many new research findings are:

  • Medical malpractice insurance companies are making twice the profit of the entire property/casualty insurance industry. In fact, the med mal insurance industry has had seven years of underwriting profit - something completely unheard of in the property/casualty sector. (Page 53.)

  • After Texas enacted severe limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, including "caps" on damages, rates of preventable errors rose, "consistent with hospitals gradually relaxing (or doing less to reinforce) patient safety standards." (Page 83.)

  • Researchers have found, "a strong association between introduction of a comprehensive obstetric patient safety initiative and a dramatic reduction in liability claims and liability payments." (Page 24.)

  • "On any given day, approximately one in 25 U.S. patients has at least one infection contracted during the course of their hospital care." (Page 65.)

  • "Despite a slew of news accounts about patients being set on fire in operating rooms across the country, adoption of precautionary measures has been slow, often implemented only after a hospital experiences an accident." (Page 66.)

  • "At least eight doctors whose medical licenses were suspended or revoked collectively billed Medicare more than $7 million in 2012." (Page 7.)

  • "An average of 103,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and health care aides a year were abusing or dependent on illicit drugs." (Page 7.)

  • As unsafe as are civilian hospitals, military hospitals are worse. (Page 87.)

  • Medical malpractice premiums are not rising; other factors are contributing to the plight of physicians, specifically "health insurers that clamp down on the size of physician fees and deny payment for services that they deem unnecessary." (Page 56.)

  • When asked their main reason for leaving New York state, newly trained physicians cited the "Cost of Malpractice Insurance" practically dead last on a list of many factors, the most important of which was "Proximity to Family." Even the general category "Other" outranked "Cost of Malpractice Insurance." Moreover, New York's liability laws were not even mentioned as a factor. (Page 52.)

  • Among the many ways doctors, dentists and other medical providers are cashing in on vulnerable patients is by selling them credit cards to pay for procedures using deceptive sales tactics; many patients have been hit with substantial debt from these credit cards while waiting for procedures. (Page 37.)

A copy of the full briefing book can be found here.

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