The Malpractice Non-Crisis

THE MALPRACTICE NON-CRISIS….Today comes news about the latest study of medical malpractice claims. A Harvard team examined 1,452 closed cases in four areas that collectively account for about 80% of all malpractice suits, and here’s what they found:

  • Administration and litigation costs in our system are indeed very high, but the vast majority of the claims in the study were properly decided: the patients who suffered injury due to medical errors were compensated and those who weren’t, weren’t.

  • About 150 of the cases involved patients who received compensation even though there was apparently no medical error.

  • 236 of the cases involved patients who received no compensation even though they suffered injury due to medical error.

That’s some out-of-control malpractice system, isn’t it? I think we all agree that it would be nice to increase the accuracy of these cases, but if we did, the cost of malpractice payouts would go up, not down.

More detail here, including the fact that nearly all cases are settled out of court, and of the ones that do go to court, patients lose 80% of them. This study, by the way, follows a long line of earlier studies that show the same thing: malpractice claims are actually pretty rare; compensation is generally fair; a more accurate system would pay out more, not less; and malpractice payouts have not been rising any faster than the overall rate of medical inflation. The malpractice “crisis” is mostly just hype.