Malpractice complaints: Physician, heal thyself

Philadelphia Daily News
Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Each year, more than 44,000 Americans die as a result of medical errors, according to a 1991 report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents,
breast cancer and AIDS. The errors aren't just devastating to victims; they are also costly to society, with estimates from $17 billion to $29 billion.

And we're talking about serious mistakes: amputating wrong legs; operations on the wrong side of the brain; death during a routine ear
operation when the anesthesiologist fell asleep and failed to monitor the patient's condition; misreading of Pap smears resulting in deaths from cervical cancer.

The Center for Justice and Democracy, in a report called Reading Between the Lines - The Media and Jury Verdicts, analyzes how the media's reporting of jury verdicts sometimes perpetuates the misperception that our civil jury system is in a state of emergency and examines how the myth of the "out of control" or "runaway" jury is a fiction fueled by headlines.

The Center does this by comparing news coverage with statistical data: the extent to which the media overrepresent the proportion of disputes resolved by juries, the rate of plaintiff victories handed down by juries, the size of typical jury awards and the number (and size) of jury-decided punitive damage awards.

Lauren Townsend, Executive Director, Citizens for Consumer Justice

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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