You may have seen or heard this definition of medical malpractice: "professional neglect by act of omission by a health care provider in which the treatment provided falls below the standard of practice in the medical community" (www.dictionary.com).
What does that mean in English?
That a doctor, nurse or hospital didn't follow established patient safety rules and because of that a patient was seriously hurt or died.
It can be as simple as a doctor not reading a test report, a nurse not following up, or a hospital not having a system to make sure MRIs are reviewed before a patient is discharged.
Still, there are many misconceptions about medical malpractice when it comes to filing a claim. A report compiled by the American Association for Justice outlined some of the most common myths about medical malpractice.
Top medical malpractice myths:
- There are too many "frivolous" malpractice lawsuits
- Malpractice claims drive up health care costs
- Doctors are fleeing (the state, area or profession)
- Malpractice claims drive up doctors' premiums
- Tort reform will lower insurance rates
The truth is there is not a rise in medical malpractice claims, but in fact a rise in medical mistakes. Many reports have shown that hundreds of thousands of patients are injured every year from medical negligence. Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study and found that out of the 1,400 closed medical malpractice claims, 97% of those claims were found to be meritorious.
The cost of medical malpractice claims only represent a small fraction of health care costs. Medical malpractice claims are also not the cause of doctors' premiums. In fact, there is no direct correlation between either of these myths and medical malpractice.
Doctors are not fleeing, in fact the amount of practicing doctors in the U.S. is on the rise. According to the report done by the American Association for Justice, the number of practicing physicians has been growing steadily for decades. Again, there is no correlation between medical malpractice and whether there are more or less doctors practicing medicine.
There is little difference between the states that have caps and those that do not when it comes to the cost of health care premiums, shown in the report done by the American Association for Justice. The reports focus on Texas and their "success" with their legislative caps on damages (the amount an injured patient can recover from the responsible hospital based on the severity of the injury, costs of medical care and other factors). Some say more doctors have started to practice medicine in Texas recently - but there was no difference in the previous years before the cap was put in place and the cap has done nothing to reduce health care costs.
At the end of the day, you cannot believe everything you hear. More importantly, if you have questions about medical malpractice and medical malpractice claims, just ask us. All we do is help patients and families in cases where they have been harmed by the medical system in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. We've probably helped someone dealing with the same concerns and worries that you have after a medical mistake.
Just call us at (202) 393 - 3320. There is no obligation and the call is free. Plus, you'll get free information you can use right away.