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Monday, September 13, 2010

Medical Malpractice Costs only 2.4% of Total Medical Expenditure (Maybe)

According to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs, medical malpractice costs, including unnecessary tests and other defensive medicine practices, account for only 2.4 % of the total cost of Americans' $2.3 trillion expenditure on health care in 2008. Defensive medicine accounted for over 82% of that expense, with actual courtroom costs--including compensation for victims and the so-called lions' share taken by personal injury lawyers--amounting to 0.4% of health care spending annually. Although critics of the current tort system and tort reformers want to portray the system as broken, the product of a litigious culture that is being propped up by greedy trial lawyers, it is clear that someone may be getting rich from health care, but it isn't the lawyers or the injury victims.

Of course, this is only the latest in a number of estimates attempting to put a hard number to the question of how much medical malpractice costs us. Previous estimates range all over the place, from two percent up to ten percent (if you account for medical malpractice insurance, which, we've already discussed costs much more than lawsuits). Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that we will ever be able to have the kind of numbers that could inform policy on a large scale.

What we do have good numbers on is the conduct of individual lawsuits. As it is, the majority of people injured in a hospital or under a doctor's care do not file lawsuits, and, among those lawsuits filed 97% stem from an actual medical injury. The majority of people whose injury was the result of a doctor's error get compensated, and the majority of those whose injury was not the result of error don't get compensated. Further, the amount of compensation scales up with the severity of injury and doctor's error. The system may not be perfect, but discussion of tort reform must be sure that proposals do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

If you or a loved one has been hurt by a doctor's error, the medical malpractice lawyers of The Cochran Firm may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. To learn more, please contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:24 PM

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The Cochran Firm handles Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense claims for clients throughout the United States of America. The information on this website does not constitute legal advice nor form an attorney-client relationship.Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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