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New Paper Debunks Medical Malpractice Myths

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 8-Dec-2009


 Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

The American Association for Justice has published a paper that concisely and clearly debunked the myths about medical malpractice which has been spread by business interest groups aimed at putting profits over people.  In the first of a series of papers, Public Citizen debunks the following "five myths: 

  • Myth #1: There are too many “frivolous” malpractice lawsuits.

Fact: There’s an epidemic of medical negligence, not lawsuits.  Only one in eight people injured by medical negligence ever file suit.  Civil filings have declined eight percent over the last decade, and are less than one percent of the whole civil docket.  A 2006 Harvard study found that 97 percent of claims were meritorious, stating, “portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.”

  • Myth #2: Malpractice claims drive up health care costs.

Fact: According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the total spent defending claims and compensating victims of medical negligence was just 0.3% of health care costs, and the Congressional Budget Office and Government Accountability Office have made similar findings.

  • Myth #3: Doctors are fleeing.

Fact: Then where are they going?  According to the American Medical Association’s own data, the number of practicing physicians in the United States has been growing steadily for decades. Not only are there more doctors, but the number of doctors is increasing faster than population growth.  Despite the cries of physicians fleeing multiple states, the number of physicians increased in every state, and only four states saw growth slower than population growth; these four states all have medical malpractice caps.

  • Myth #4: Malpractice claims drive up doctors’ premiums.

Fact: Empirical research has found that there is little correlation between malpractice payouts and malpractice premiums paid by doctors. A study of the leading medical malpractice insurance companies’ financial statements by former Missouri Insurance Commissioner Jay Angoff found that these insurers artificially raised doctors’ premiums and misled the public about the nature of medical negligence claims.  A previous AAJ report on malpractice insurers found they had earnings higher than 99% of Fortune 500 companies.

  • Myth #5: Tort reform will lower insurance rates.

Fact:  Tort reforms are passed under the guise that they will lower physicians’ liability premiums. This does not happen. While insurers do pay out less money when damages awards are capped, they do not pass the savings along to doctors by lowering premiums. Even the most ardent tort reformers have been caught stating that tort reform will have no effect on insurance rates."

It is widely accepted that approximately 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of medical errors.  That’s like two 747 airplanes full of passengers crashing to the ground every day for a year.  Yet, some legislators want to strip innocent victims of their constitutional rights, including limitibg their recoveries, instead of focusing on preventing future errors. 

Don’t let your legislative representatives takes your rights away just so some special interest groups can pad their profits.  Fight for safer hospitals, better medical practices, and a safer American health system.  We must put people over profits.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications and medical errors.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 

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