Medical malpractice truth is in the numbers

Daily Record
Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Only about one medical malpractice victim in 10 files a legal claim and those who did file in 2000 recovered on average about $43,000, according to a report on national data released by the New York- based consumer advocacy group Center for Justice and Democracy.

The CJD announcement that accompanied the report last week accused the insurance industry of engaging in “a bogus public relations scam” by scaring the public and legislatures with the specter of huge jury verdicts.

Medical malpractice litigation is not reducing the availability of medical care, said CJD Executive Director Joanne Doroshow.

“They are getting off pretty easy, considering most people who are injured don’t even file a claim,” Doroshow said yesterday of medical providers. “There’s a real difference between the perception of people getting million-dollar awards — and it being a lottery — and the reality.”

Prepared by J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, the study consists of a spreadsheet of data and Hunter’s cover letter of Oct. 13 to Doroshow. Hunter included as part of his report an article from the August 2001 insurance publication Best’s Review.

While the Best’s article states that large medical malpractice awards will make insurers less likely to provide medical malpractice coverage, it also states that medical malpractice coverage is unattractive for insurers because of their own underpricing of policies and a move toward managed care.

Hunter said yesterday he felt that media reports about million-dollar verdicts were misleading the public.

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

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