Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Increase Health Care Costs?

Over the last few years, many people in Massachusetts have experienced the rising cost of health care. Some have pointed to medical malpractice lawsuits as a major factor in the cost increase. Critics of medical error lawsuits argue that frivolous lawsuits and settlement awards have driven up health care costs and some have called for reform including, placing caps on malpractice award payouts and shorter statutes of limitations.

However, some states that have implemented such reforms found that tort reform had actually caused the number of medical malpractice claims to rise. Many believe this is due to the fact that medical malpractice awards actually lead to better health care and that by taking away the potential of a large verdict for a life changing medical error, medical providers are less likely to fear the consequences of making negligent or even reckless medical decisions.

Let’s take anesthesilogy as an example.

In the 1980s, medical malpractice lawsuits involving anesthesiologists were extremely frequent. Anesthesia was considered dangerous to patients as one in 6,000 patients died from it. Anesthesiology then came under fire when a number of medical malpractice cases were decided in favor of patients. In response to these medical malpractice lawsuits, the field of anesthesiology was revamped. Because of those changes, the number of anesthesia-related injuries decreased.   Today, very few people are injured due to anesthesia alone.

While some in the medical field point to medical malpractice lawsuits as the reason behind the rising cost of health care, history clearly shows that large-verdict lawsuits can prompt positive change that benefits both patients and doctors.

To put things in perspective, preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death right behind cancer and heart disease. According to the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 210,000 preventable deaths occur in hospitals each year. That’s more than 3,800 every week. That is equivalent to two jumbo jet passenger airplanes crashing and killing all passengers, on a daily basis

Considering the shockingly high number of preventable patient deaths that occur in hospitals each year, critics of medical malpractice lawsuits should be more concerned with making improvements in medical care and less concerned with the system that seeks to hold our medical community accountable for their life changing mistakes.

Due to negligence or carelessness by a doctor, nurse, or hospital, people can suffer severe and life-altering injuries. When these mistakes occur, the negligent healthcare providers should be held accountable. Claims against doctors, nurses or hospitals may include claims for negligence, claims for emotional distress and even wrongful death.

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice and you would like to speak with a personal injury lawyer, please contact us to speak to one of the lawyers at Curran & Desharnais, P.C., today at 781-618-3197 or 1-888-682-9194 or email Attorney Curran directly at jkcurran@verizon.net.

medical malpractice, Personal Injury, wrongful death

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