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Lawsuits may not be responsible for rise in healthcare costs

A consumer group called Public Citizen asserts that medical malpractice payments for 2011 were at a record low, and that medical malpractice payments are not the reason for the high cost of health care. What has instead occurred is that patients remain uncompensated for hospital errors.

The group's study also demonstrates that such a trend has been going on for a number of years. The number of malpractice payments made by doctors has fallen for eight straight years, and the average size of such payments has also declined. More importantly, payments that have been made by hospitals or medical malpractice insurance carriers are almost always for catastrophic injury or death as a result of medical malpractice.

Though not as many medical malpractice claims are being successfully prosecuted as in the past, medical malpractice claims have not gone away. Sadly, it does not appear that the number of medical errors has decreased, and efforts to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims through tort reform efforts have not reduced medical costs whatsoever.

Not every attorney can successfully bring a medical malpractice claim against a negligent hospital. There are attorneys in the Kentucky and Ohio area that have had a long history of successfully bringing lawsuits against large medical institutions. Such attorneys have often successfully brought for clients multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements.

The above mentioned study did state that verdicts of $50 million or more have increased in recent years. Though such verdicts are rare, one understands why juries brought back such verdicts when one realizes just how devastating hospital errors can sometimes be. Some such injuries can result in a lifetime need of medical care and services.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Malpractice Claims at Record Low, Not Driving Health Costs: Consumer Group," by Andrew G. Simpson, July 13, 2012

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