7 Medical Malpractice Myths Debunked
May 15, 2015
Medical malpractice can cause real harm to people, potentially resulting in permanent – if not fatal – health complications. Despite this fact, however, medical malpractice and the cases that stem from it have become a controversial topic in the U.S., particularly in light of pushes from insurance companies and politicians to limit damages for malpractice cases, enact tort “reforms,” etc.
Such controversy has led to a lot of misinformation about medical malpractice gaining traction and obscuring some of the real facts about this type of negligence and the civil cases associated with it.
To clear up some of these misconceptions, this article will dispel some of the most common myths about medical malpractice. While our discussion herein underscores some important info and facts, remember that you can turn to the experienced Portland medical malpractice lawyers at the Savage Law Firm when you need help:
- Holding negligent medical professionals accountable for hurting you
- Securing compensation for your malpractice-related injuries and losses.
Have You Heard Any of these Medical Malpractice Myths?
Myth 1 – Most medical malpractice lawsuits are frivolous.
Fact – This is outright wrong. In fact, a study from the Harvard School of Public Health has found that, on average, about 97 percent of medical malpractice cases are merit based.
These findings, which were derived from an analysis of more than 1,400 resolved medical negligence cases, led researchers to conclude that “portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.”
Myth 2 – Most medical malpractice cases are for minor injuries.
Fact – Wrong again! Minor injuries are, in fact, rarely the subjects of medical malpractice cases, as studies have found that at least 4 in every 5 malpractice lawsuits filed are associated with claims of serious injuries and/or death.
Myth 3 – Medical malpractice cases are usually pushed by money-hungry lawyers, and they don’t really target dangerous doctors.
Fact – This malpractice myth, which goes hand-in-hand with the myth about most malpractice cases being frivolous, is also just plain wrong. Here’s why:
- Most requests for malpractice representation are rejected by lawyers – In fact, studies have shown that medical malpractice attorneys typically reject between 80 percent and 97 percent of the requests they get for malpractice representation.In other words, it’s far more likely for an attorney to reject a request for representation than to accept it when it comes to medical malpractice cases. This seems to underscore that many attorneys are very careful about the cases they choose the move forward with and, consequently, that money is NOT the main motivator for the lawyers taking on these complicated cases
- Only a small fraction of doctors are the targets of medical malpractice cases, often more than once – In fact, studies have shown that about 60 percent of medical negligence claims are associated with about 6 percent of the doctors in the U.S. What’s more is that, about 10 percent of the time, the doctors that are named as defendants in medical malpractice cases have been sued for malpractice at least once before.
Myth 4 – In most cases, medical malpractice is not preventable.
Fact – Wrong! Many of the most common and damaging medical errors are entirely preventable. In fact, the following indicates just some of the ways that common forms of medical negligence could be prevented:
- Surgery errors could be prevented by instituting better pre-surgery preparation procedures (to prevent wrong-site surgeries), improving methods for accounting for surgical tools (so they don’t get left in patients), etc.
- Medication errors could be prevented by improving communication between medical professionals (so that the right types and doses of medications are administered to patients), etc.
- Diagnostic errors could be prevented by taking more time with patients (to fully understand their symptoms), conducting more or better testing (to avoid misdiagnosis), etc.
Additionally, research has suggested that close to 98,000 lives could be saved every year if better care was taken to prevent medical malpractice.
Myth 5 – An increasing number of medical malpractice cases have been filed in recent years.
Fact – Nope! Actually, since around 1997, the number of medical malpractice filings in the U.S. has decreased. In fact, as the National Center for State Courts has reported:
- There has been an 8 percent decrease in medical malpractice filings over the past 17 or so years.
- While personal injury cases only comprise about 6 percent of the total caseload for the civil court system, medical negligence claims only make about 3 percent of these cases. In other words, medical malpractice cases only represent about 0.18 percent of the total caseload for the U.S. civil court system.
Myth 6 – Medical malpractice lawsuits are increasing health care costs and are forcing physicians to stop practicing medicine.
Fact – This is also blatantly untrue, as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has pointed out that:
- Defending physicians against medical negligence claims and compensating victims costs about $7.1 billion each year. This represents only 0.3 percent of the total U.S. healthcare costs.
- In contrast, the costs associated with preventable medical mistakes are more than quadruple those associated with medical negligence claims, as preventable medical errors cost $29 billion annually in the U.S.
- Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of practicing physicians in the U.S., representing an all-time high for the nation.
Myth 7 – Awards in medical malpractice cases are outrageous and out of control.
Fact – Wrong again! Although people tend to hear about large medical malpractice awards, only about 0.5 percent of medical malpractice awards are $1 million or greater (and these are for cases associated with the most serious/fatal injuries).
In fact, while some research has found that the average payout for a medical malpractice claim associated with serious/permanent injuries was between $215,000 and $315,000, a RAND study has reported that, over the past 40 or so years, the value of the awards has not grown/increased consistently with the value of real income.
Here, it’s also important to note that, while hundreds of thousands of dollars for a malpractice award may seem substantial, these awards are generally intended to cover a lifetime of medical bills, lost income and other costs.
Portland Medical Malpractice Lawyers at the Savage Law Firm
Have you been hurt by any type of medical negligence? If so, you can rely on the Portland medical malpractice lawyers at the Savage Law Firm for experienced help and aggressive legal advocacy. Since 1977, our lawyers have been devoted to providing each of our clients with personal attention, respect and the highest quality legal services.
We realize how physically, psychologically and financially devastating medical malpractice can be. That is why:
- Helping you recover from the financial setbacks caused by medical malpractice is one of our primary goals.
- Our lawyers are here to aggressively defend your rights to both justice and compensation.