Many myths about medical malpractice claims and lawsuits are supported by insurance companies looking to protect their financial interests. Myths and distorted facts often prevent injured patients from filing medical malpractice claims.
Medical Malpractice Myths and Facts
Medical professionals and hospitals owe a duty of care to their patients to protect them from harm. Although most physicians and medical facilities uphold that medical oath, medical errors that injure patients still occur at an alarming rate. Some injuries are caused by medical errors, while others are caused by negligent actions. When patients are harmed, they have the right to file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries and losses.
Thousands of patients suffer injuries each year from misdiagnosed conditions, improper treatments, surgical errors, medication errors, and negligent actions. John Hopkins School of Medicine reports that medical errors are the third-highest cause of death in the United States, but most go unreported. Myths and distorted facts about medical malpractice often prevent injured patients from pursuing legal action.
Medical Errors are Rare
According to the Institute of Medicine, each year between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die in hospitals due to preventable medical errors, compared to only 43,000 who die in car accidents. Since hospitals do not track or record medical errors, actual patient deaths may be much higher. While medical errors account for about 10% of patient deaths, medical errors on death certificates are rarely noted. According to the CDC, if deaths from medical errors were noted they would out-rank patient deaths from strokes and heart attacks, respiratory failure, and liver and kidney diseases.
Medical Errors are Not Preventable
National health studies show over 70% of medical errors are preventable. Reported adverse events show the most common types of preventable errors and their error rates: Technical and Communication Errors (44%); Misdiagnosis of Illness or Disease (17%); Improper Medical Treatments (12%; Drug and Medications Errors (10%). Chicago medical malpractice lawyers handle a large number of cases related to medication errors that involve drug labeling mistakes, improper dosages, and overly prescribed medications. Over one-third of patients who take prescription medications on a regular basis are injured by their medications, especially patients who take multiple medications.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits are Frivolous
Although some medical malpractice cases involve minor injuries, 80% of cases are related to severe patient injuries or deaths. According to Harvard Health, 97 % of cases have strong merit-based on patient injuries caused by medical errors or medical negligence by physicians, urgent care facilities, and hospitals. Insurance companies often support the myth that medical malpractice lawsuits are only filed by ambulance chasers looking for newsworthy attention and easy payouts. As a result, it is a common misconception that filing a medical malpractice claim is a frivolous action.
Medical Malpractice Claims Raise Healthcare Costs
Although many healthcare insurers continue to raise premiums based on a rise in claims, medical malpractice payouts are actually less than 1% of the total healthcare costs to consumers. According to the GOA, all losses including legal verdicts, settlements, fees have remained under 1% for the last eighteen years. Health insurance companies continue to raise healthcare premiums for individuals and deny coverage and claims for patients. Medical malpractice claims do not increase healthcare costs, but raising the cost of insurance to patients and physicians and denying claims is driving up the cost of health insurance.
While the cost of medical malpractice insurance to health care providers is only $1.9 billion dollars per year, the cost resulting from preventable medical errors to patients and families is between $17 billion and $29 billion dollars per year. Preventable medical injuries place the financial burden on the injury victim if a medical malpractice claim isn’t filed with medical malpractice lawyers.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits are Unaffordable
When a patient is injured by medical errors or the negligent actions of a physician or hospital, medical malpractice lawyers are essential to recovering fair compensation for injuries. In cases where plaintiffs represent themselves, they often recover less than 1% of the total dollars, compared to over $25 million recovered by lawyers in civil lawsuits and legal settlements. Medical malpractice encompasses any act or omission that deviates from medical standards and causes injury to a patient, but it does not have to be a criminal act.
Patients should understand that medical malpractice involves complex laws and cases require proof of wrongdoing. A plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit must prove 5 things: a doctor-patient relationship existed; a duty of care existed; a medical professional breached the duty of care; the breach of care caused injuries, and the patient suffered damages as a result of injuries.