Saturday, 15 of December of 2018

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Medical Malpractice Accounts for Less than 3 Percent of Health Care Costs

In the midst of the most recent healthcare reform debate, some public officials talked about tort reform as essential to reducing healthcare costs. Some officials even proclaimed we could save hundreds of billions of dollars if we simply capped the amount of money victims can get in a lawsuit (i.e. what tort reform really means). Again, these proclamations are false.

By Jim Lewis, Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Virginia

When we talk about medical malpractice, there is usually someone who brings up the dire need for tort reform. They talk about “frivolous” lawsuits run amuck and how all those medical malpractice lawsuits are driving up healthcare costs.  Well, turns out those arguments are completely untrue.

A new study was released in the September 2010 issue of Health Affairs which showed that the cost of medical malpractice suits account for roughly 2.4 percent of all health care spending. You read that right – 2.4 percent.  

In the midst of the most recent healthcare reform debate, some public officials talked about tort reform as essential to reducing healthcare costs. Some officials even proclaimed we could save hundreds of billions of dollars if we simply capped the amount of money victims can get in a lawsuit (i.e. what tort reform really means). Again, these proclamations are false.

“Some of the numbers bandied about in policy discussions were quite imaginative and we wanted a more defensible estimate,” according to Michelle Mello, the author and professor of law and public health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The study specifically stated capping damages for victims is unlikely to have an impact on overall health care spending and more emphasis should be placed on shifting from a fee-for-service system to a fee-for-quality system, according to healthaffairs.org.

So when your friend, neighbor, or relative starts railing against medical negligence lawsuits and touts tort reform, gently remind them that malpractice costs are microscopic in the grand scheme of healthcare spending in our country.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases, which includes hospital/doctor mistakes, and nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see for yourself. In addition, check out our FREE special reports on the Top 10 Tips from a Medical Malpractice Insider and the top 5 surgical errors you must know about. Our primary office in based in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) and we also have a North Carolina (NC) law office.  Our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We are ready to talk to you by phone right now—we provide free initial confidential injury case consultations, so call us toll free at 1-800-752-0042. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. PA


State Courts Overturn Medical Malpractice “Caps,” VA and NC Should Follow Suit

By Jim Lewis, VA/NC Medical Malpractice Injury Lawyer

The Supreme Court in Georgia and Illinois have ruled in favor of victim rights by striking down limits on medical malpractice “caps,” according to the New York Times. These caps are arbitrary limitations on the amount of compensation a victim can receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice caps, instituted by state legislators (many of whom who were influenced by health insurance lobbyists), were an attempt to help control health care costs. In most cases, this has been a complete failure.  For example, Texas enacted medical malpractice caps in 2004 and within six months, the largest medical malpractice insurer in the state increased their premiums by 19 percent. The insurance company said, “Non-economic damages are a small percentage of total losses paid. Capping non-economic damages will show loss savings of 1.0 percent.” This means caps would account for no more than a 1 percent savings in costs; a drop in the bucket compared to a 19 percent premium increase.

Even with this evidence, there was a lot of talk in the recent health care reform debate about a need for drastic tort reform and members of Congress even submitted proposals to set a national cap on malpractice awards. Fortunately, these proposals never garnered any serious consideration since they were vastly overreaching and based on scoring political points, not advancing a serious substantive discussion on tort law.

Proponents of restricting victim’s rights fail to recognize that arbitrary medical malpractice caps weaken the foundation of our Republic – the right to have your case decided by a jury of your peers. I echo the sentiments of Georgia Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein who wrote, “The very existence of the caps, in any amount, is violative of the right to a trial by jury.”

Unfortunately, Virginia (VA) still features caps in medical malpractice lawsuits. The law, Va. Code Ann. §8.01-581.15, limits the amount that any victim can recover from an at-fault healthcare provider, regardless how much appropriately is awarded by a jury or judge at trial. Virginia’s cap has been fixed at $2 million since July 1, 2008. So even if someone suffers a serious injury that is estimated to require $5 million worth of care, $2 million is the maximum amount that can be awarded.

In North Carolina (NC), the law states  that “punitive damages will be limited to three times compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is greater.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1D-25 (1995).

I hope more states start to mirror the decisions made in Georgia and Illinois. For all of the families who lost a loved one due to a surgical mistake and the victims who’ve had their lives altered forever because of medical negligence, I hope these changes happen sooner rather than later.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases. Check out our case results to see for yourself. In addition, take a moment to review out our free consumer reports on the Top 10 Tips from a Medical Malpractice Insider and the Top 5 Surgical Errors You Must Know About. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube .We have offices based in Virginia Beach, VA and Elizaberth City, NC but we’ll come to you.  Our lawyers hold licenses in VA, NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We provide this blog as a pro bono service.


Welcome to Our New Medical Malpractice Blog

We want this blog to be a resource for victims of medical negligence and surgical errors. If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, you fully appreciate the pain and suffering associated with the incident. As attorneys who’ve handled multiple medical negligence lawsuits, we know there are a lot of misconceptions floating around about “junk lawsuits” and the need for drastic “tort reform” that would punish the victim, not the perpetrator of the negligence. This blog will help clarify some of those misconceptions and shed light on the human impact of medical mistakes.

Once again, thanks for dropping in!

                                                                 -James Lewis, Medical Malpractice Attorney