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Medical malpractice myths

With presidential politics in full swing though the election is more than a year away, one of the topics that might get more attention over coming days is medical malpractice. Several candidates have expressed their support for revamping the system and putting caps on compensation.

Here in Kentucky we have no such cap, but as you know, proponents of the limits have tried more than once to convince voters that the caps would improve our lives. In coming days, we can expect to hear more myths about medical malpractice and tort "reform."

Politicians are often quick to refer to "frivolous" lawsuits when they discuss medical malpractice. The reality is that Harvard researchers determined that 97 percent of medical malpractice claims have merit and that the claims "of a malpractice system...stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown."

The website medmalfacts.com also notes that at least 80 percent of medical negligence claims involve cases of serious injury or death.

Another myth: juries are handing out enormous, overly generous verdicts. Again, let's take a look at the real numbers: one-half of 1 percent of all medical malpractice payments result in awards of $1 million or more.

Have juries gone crazy? Hardly. Most medical malpractice cases are never even heard by a jury: judges and juries award only 5 percent of all medical malpractice dollars.

Let's face it: when someone receives significant compensation, it's because they -- or a loved one -- has suffered significant damage. Sometimes it's in the form of a permanent injury or a lifelong disability (quadriplegia, brain damage, etc.) or even death.

As the political season wears on, we will revisit this topic.

Those who have been harmed by a negligent Covington doctor, nurse or hospital (or by someone in Cincinnati) can speak to attorneys experienced in holding negligent medical providers accountable.

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