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Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Raise Care Costs?

Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Raise Care Costs?

Backers of tort reform claim that medical malpractice lawsuits cause the costs of medical care to spike up. Others contend, however, that these suits actually enforce safer medical care. This can further lower malpractice premiums, and in fact lower the costs of medical care. The case example: anesthesiologists. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, these medical specialists were among those with the largest malpractice premiums.

Frequent and obvious negligence was drawing a great deal of lawsuits. Approximately 1 in 6,000 anesthesia administrations led to death. There was an even higher rate of brain injury from anesthesia. In 1982, the American Society of Anesthesiologists surveyed their current practices. This was in light of a wave of large awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, and the resulting poor public image.

After its review, anesthesiologists worked under new policies. Changes were made in training, and work hours were rearranged so that these specialists could only work for so long before having to rest. Machines were upgraded as well. Soon, only 1 in 200,000 administrations of anesthesia caused death. Anesthesiologists found their malpractice premiums drop to the smallest amounts of any medical specialist.

Opponents of tort reform see this as compelling reason for other specialists, such as those in obstetrics and gynecology, to take a page out of anesthesiology’s book. Fortunately, some hospitals have taken similar measures of their own to ensure patient safety. Nonetheless, as many as 100,000 to 1 million people are dying of preventable causes in US hospitals every year. Many more are being injured through a medical professional’s negligence.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by malpractice, then you might be able to seek compensation for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and perhaps more. Contact a Raleigh medical malpractice lawyer from the Whitley Law Firm to understand your legal options.