Medical care is a necessity and many can’t live without it. That said, just as we have the right to sue other professional who provide faulty products or services (including lawyers), patients should also be able to sue their health care professionals for failing to provide adequate care. But there are a lot of misconceptions about medical malpractice.
Nevertheless, there are those who insist medical malpractice lawsuits have gotten out of control, and rather than monitoring doctors and health care facilities, the government should limit patients’ ability to receive compensation for the physical and emotional pain and suffering resulting from improper care. Let’s take a look at some of the most common claims against medical malpractice lawsuits and compare them to reality.
Myth: There are too many frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
Fact: Lawsuits are a huge hassle that no one wants to deal with, including the plaintiff. They’re expensive, and depending on the size of the lawsuit, they can drag on in the courts for months, or even years. And after all that, the outcome is never a sure thing, which is why so many lawsuits settle before ever getting to trial. It’s in both parties’ interests to come to an agreement on their own, rather than put themselves at the mercy of the court.
Further, in Missouri and Illinois, prior to filing a medical negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff must obtain the sworn opinion of a medical professional verifying the alleged negligent act by the medical professional was below the standard of care. It’s a requirement.
According to a recent review by the Harvard School for Public Health, less than 3% of the more than 1,500 medical malpractice lawsuits included in the review lacked sufficient evidence to prove the medical practitioner or health care facility had been negligent in the care they provided.
Myth: Medical malpractice lawsuits are the reason behind the higher costs of health care in America.
Fact: There’s much more to the cost of medical malpractice than litigation. In fact, tens of billions of dollars are spent annually on medical care that would never have been necessary if the patients had been diagnosed and treated properly the first time. In actuality, the legal costs of defending a medical malpractice lawsuit, settling claims, and paying jury awards is only a fraction of a percent of the trillions of dollars spent on health care in America every year.
Myth: Doctors don’t want to practice in states that put caps on medical malpractice claims.
Fact: There are many factors determining where people live, including where they’re friends and family live, where they grew up, and where they went to medical school. Connections tend to matter more than laws, and numbers say the same. States that put a cap on the amount of financial damages for which a plaintiff can sue actually have fewer doctors per capita than states that have no such limit.
Myth: Limiting medical malpractice lawsuit claims will allow doctors to pay less for insurance, which will allow patients to pay less for care.
Fact: Since we’ve already determined above that medical malpractice lawsuits do not, in fact, have much, if any, effect on the costs of health care, we can safely say that limiting medical malpractice lawsuit claims would have little, if any, effect on health care costs.
The ability to sue service providers who fail to deliver on what they offer is a tool that’s meant to protect consumers and no where is that more important than in the healthcare industry. Not only do medical malpractice lawsuits enable us to keep doctors accountable, but the numbers show they have no effect on the costs of providing care.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, been a victim of negligence, or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.