Are Malpractice Lawsuits Driving Up Healthcare Costs?
Medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients. Medical professionals must provide care that meets the accepted standard, or that which would be offered by similarly trained medical professionals faced with the same set of circumstances. When that degree of care is not met, and damages occur, a medical malpractice claim can be filed.
Many medical malpractice victims are hesitant to take legal action. One potential reason is guilt over concerns that malpractice lawsuits are driving up healthcare costs. Here, medical malpractice attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, serving the Salt Lake City, UT, area, address those concerns and present data for medical malpractice payouts over the past several years.
Paid Medical Malpractice Claims are Declining
As healthcare costs continue to rise, many people look for a reason behind increasing costs. The medical field is all too happy to let people believe that the cost of medical malpractice claims are at least partially to blame, but data shows that is far from the truth. David Belk MD, author of The Great American Healthcare Scam: How Kickbacks, Collusion and Propaganda have Exploded Healthcare Costs in the United States, has gathered data from the National Practitioner Data Bank to provide an overview of paid medical malpractice claims in the United States between 1991 and 2017.
Data shows that starting in 2001 there has been a significant drop in the total number of paid medical malpractice claims in the United States. In 2001 there were around 16,000 paid medical malpractice claims just against physicians (MDs and DOs). By 2016 there were fewer than 8,500 paid claims against MDs and DOs. That’s a nearly 50 percent drop over the 16-year time period. With the number of paid medical malpractice claims dropping, it is completely unreasonable to blame rising healthcare costs on these legal claims.
Medical Malpractice Payouts are Declining
Although the number of paid medical malpractice claims has been declining over the past 16 years, our Salt Lake City clients may wonder if increased medical malpractice payouts are affecting healthcare costs. Again, the data shows that is not the case.
Between the years 2001 and 2016, the total amount of money paid on medical malpractice claims dropped by almost 25 percent. When inflation is taken into consideration, the drop in medical malpractice payout amounts is even more significant. The majority of payout drops are in cases with smaller payouts. Medical malpractice payouts under $500,000 accounted for nearly 55 percent of the decrease in malpractice payouts since 2001, while payouts of claims with $500,000 or more in damages remained pretty steady.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Action
The medical field may want patients to believe that malpractice claims are to blame for rising healthcare costs, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Individuals who have suffered physical, emotional, and/or financial losses as a result of medical malpractice should not be afraid to take action. Our medical malpractice attorneys are happy to help individuals in the Salt Lake City area hold negligent medical professionals accountable for the damages they have caused.
If you have suffered injuries, worsened illness, and/or financial damages as a result of subpar medical care, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. To consider your best course of legal action, send us a message online, or call the attorneys of Younker Hyde Macfarlane at (801) 335-6467.