U.S. Malpractice Lawsuits Less Than 1 Percent Of Healthcare Costs

0 Shares
malpractice0501_image

BALTIMORE (UPI) — Some argue malpractice lawsuits are a big driver of U.S. healthcare costs, but researchers suggest these assertions are wrong.

Dr. Marty Makary, an associate professor of surgery and health policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues found in their review that U.S. malpractice payouts of more than $1 million added up to roughly $1.4 billion a year — making up far less than 1 percent of national medical expenditures in the United States. The cost of U.S. healthcare was $2.6 trillion in 2010.

“The notion that frivolous claims are routinely resulting in $100 million payouts is not true,” Makary, the study leader, said in a statement. “The real problem is that far too many tests and procedures are being performed in the name of defensive medicine, as physicians fear they could be sued if they don’t order them. That costs upwards of $60 billion a year. It is not the payouts that are bankrupting the system — it’s the fear of them.”

Catastrophic claims, or payouts more than $1 million, were more likely to occur when a patient who is killed or injured is under the age of 1; develops quadriplegia, brain damage or the need for lifelong care as a result of the malpractice; or when the claim results from a problem related to anesthesia, the review found. More than 77,000 claims were paid, and catastrophic claims made up 7.9 percent.

Makary and colleagues reviewed nationwide medical malpractice claims using the National Practitioner Data Bank, an electronic repository of all malpractice settlements or judgments since 1986. They looked at 2004 to 2010 data.

Makary said the data suggested the focus of legal reform efforts should be on doctor protections aimed at reducing defensive medicine rather than the creation of malpractice caps.

The findings were published online in the Journal for Healthcare Quality.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

  • TPM

    All the extra tests to CYA, plus the (high) cost of malpractice insurance add greatly to the cost of health care.

  • GALT

    Word clues…….

    What kind of results do you expect from someone who describes
    what they do as PRACTICING?

    How about the results from those who practice…….defensively?

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  • jhm47

    Most “malpractice” lawsuits never make it to a jury trial. It seems that the prevailing practice by insurance policies is to quietly settle “out of court”. This gives many deadbeat/drug addicts enough $$$ to keep them in non-prescription painkillers for several months. Then—they find another shyster attorney who is happy to give them instructions on how to start another bogus lawsuit. The attorneys benefit, the druggies benefit, and the average person finances their habits.

  • farmist

    “The real problem is that far too many tests and procedures are being
    performed in the name of defensive medicine, as physicians fear they
    could be sued if they don’t order them. That costs upwards of $60
    billion a year. It is not the payouts that are bankrupting the system —
    it’s the fear of them.”

    Article has this correct, but the conclusion/headline are very misleading.

  • dan

    Thankyou,I stand corrected upon a misconception…..however,

    we need to see the cost for INSURANCE that is the actual driver for the

    increased costs.

    • KroekerMom

      Malpractice insurance & defensive medicine are the two areas that really hurt healthcare costs. The other issue is the way personal health insurance is mandated. When it costs the patient nothing, they are up for as many tests as possible. If they pay some costs, they are more likely to decide that some obscure tests are not cost effective.

  • Guy Wauksinnebar

    The cost of malpractice lawsuits has little to do with the cost of “defensive medicine”, which is medical procedures prescribed to mitigate the possibility of malpractice lawsuits, many of which are frivolous. It is hard to gauge the cost of defensive medicine. It could easily be 10% of total medical costs.

  • DoingMoreWithLes

    You need to add to that figure the cost for malpractice insurance which is typically in the 6 figure range per practitioner. That is just one of the drivers. We went from a country ruled by laws to a country ruled by lawyers. We are one of the only countries on the planet which allow for contingency fee law suits where it costs nothing to sue someone and many lawyers have no problem filing law suits knowing the insurance companies will rollover. Win, win for lawyer a fake victim.

  • Jake Thomas

    Then why do doctors pay such high premiums for mal-practice insurance.