“Medical malpractice should be treated as a health issue, not an economic one,” according to Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “And the cure is not reducing access to justice for victims of malpractice, but eliminating avoidable medical errors and negligence.”
Malpractice payments are experiencing historic lows, as reported by Public Citizen in its annual analysis of published data from the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Malpractice payments for 2013 were the second-lowest in well over a decade. The report cites patient safety experts sounding alarms on an increase of avoidable hospital errors… even as the number of liability payments has been on the decline.
The Journal of Patient Safety recently published a study that estimates that more than 400,000 deaths are avoidable, and serious harm to as many as another 8,000,000 patients. The total number and cumulative value of medical malpractice payments increased only slightly (1%) in 2013 — the first increase in a decade — while premiums for medical liability insurance continues to decrease. “As the purported crisis over medical liability costs to doctors has receded, we are learning that the actual crisis over avoidable medical errors is worse than we ever knew,” said Taylor Lincoln, the research director for Public Citizen’s Congressional Watch. “The time has come for the AMA to exhibit as much concern over the tragedies stemming from avoidable medical errors as it has over medical liability insurance costs.”
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