Medical Malpractice Attorney

A recent BMJ (British Medical Journal) study listed medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States. The BMJ recommends that healthcare providers make prevention of patient harm the top healthcare priority and institute policy and procedure changes directed toward that objective.

The study points out that the medical cause of an injury or death on the death certificate doesn’t reflect that “communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, poor judgment, and inadequate skill can directly result in patient harm and death.”

Continue Reading Preventing Harm to Patients should be Priority #1 for Healthcare Providers

In 2013, the Pennsylvania legislature passed “The Benevolent Gesture Medical Professional Liability Act”, which is colloquially referred to as “The Apology Law”.  This statute allows a health care provider to apologize to a patient for a mistake or perceived mistake, or a bad outcome, without fear that the apology will be used against the health care provider in a medical malpractice lawsuit.  As long as the apology or benevolent gesture is not made after the lawsuit has been filed, or the apology is not also a statement of negligence or fault, it cannot be later used against the health care provider, in a court of law.

One of the intended results of the law was to lower the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed, however, it has had little or any effect with regard to this statistic so far.

A new book, Medical Malpractice: By the Numbers, published by the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York University Law School, revels several startling findings regarding our healthcare system and medical malpractice.  According to the press release issued by Center for Justice & Democracy, among the many findings are:

  • Medical malpractice insurance companies are making twice the profit of the entire insurance industry.
  • On any given day, 1 in 25 U.S. hospital patients has at least one infection contracted during their hospital stay.
  • At least 8 doctors whose medical licenses were suspended or revoked collectively billed Medicare more than $7 million in 2012.
  • An average of 103,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and health care aides a year were abusing or dependent on illicit drugs.
  • Military hospitals are less safe than civilian hospitals.
  • Medical malpractice insurance premiums are not rising.
  • When newly trained New York state physicians were asked their main reason for leaving the state, “cost of malpractice insurance” was practically dead last, and the state’s liability laws was not even mentioned as a factor.

Interestingly, rising liability insurance premiums due to the high volume of medical malpractice lawsuits is frequently cited as a basis for instituting tort reform (laws that limit the right to sue, or that cap the amount of money injured patients can recover for their injuries).  According to this book’s findings, however, medical malpractice insurance companies are making twice the profit of the entire insurance industry, and malpractice insurance premiums are in fact not rising.  Moreover, constituents are often led to believe that physicians are leaving their state because of high insurance premiums or unfavorable liability laws.  At least in New York, this appears not be true.