The consumer watchdog organization, Public Citizen, recently released a report discussing trends for medical malpractice lawsuits in New Jersey and across the country. The advocacy group has been tracking statistics with regard to medical malpractice payouts, adverse event claims, and medical error reports.
The recent report examined information from the last 15 years and offered a troubling conclusion: while medical malpractice payouts and the numbers of claims have been on an overall downward trend, there is no evidence to suggest that the rates of medical malpractice are dropping.
Med mal statistics paint a grim picture
The number of people who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit received a payout that increased slightly from 9,370 to 9.677 from 2012 to 2013. Public Citizen gleaned this information from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Despite this slight uptick in payouts, the payout trend itself has been on a downward spiral. In 2001, there were 16,565 medical malpractice payments recorded.
The value of the payouts themselves has also been falling. In 2012, the total medical malpractice payouts equaled $3.1 billion, whereas in 2013, it was $3.3 billion. At first blush, this appears to be an increase. However, adjusting for inflation, the actual value of the increase is negated, according to Public Citizen’s number crunchers.
It might seem counterintuitive that a decreasing number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the U.S. would be a cause for concern. If this trend corresponded with improved patient safety, fewer wrongful deaths, and fewer overall adverse event reports, then these statistics would certainly be welcome news. Unfortunately, according to Public Citizen’s report, the rates of medical errors show no signs of slowing down.
Public Citizen warns of avoidable adverse events
Along with its grim statistics, the report from Public Citizen warned that patients across the U.S. are still at a high risk of suffering injuries as a result of the negligence of physicians and other healthcare providers. For example, the report notes that about 80,000 Medicare patients die each year from adverse events that were potentially preventable. And in a 2011 Health Affairs study, about one-third of all hospital admissions studied involved documented adverse events or medical errors.
New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers offer legal resources
Victims of medical errors in NJ do have legal options. Don’t become a statistic; get expert legal assistance from the team at Eisbrouch Marsh. Our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience aggressively representing the interests of our clients in court. We’ll fight to get you every penny you deserve from the hospital or physician who caused your injuries. Our attorneys represent clients from across New Jersey, in addition to those in the greater NYC metro area.
There are time limits to filing a medical malpractice claim. By waiting too long to contact a lawyer, you may be forfeiting your right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact our law firm today at 201-342-5545 to schedule a free consultation and case review, during which we’ll explain your rights and offer legal guidance.
- Public Citizen, Medical Malpractice Payments Remained at Historic Low in 2013 Despite Slight Uptick, http://www.citizen.org/documents/Medical-malpractice-2013.pdf
- MedPage Today, Public Citizen Decries Fall in Malpractice Awards, http://www.medpagetoday.com/PracticeManagement/Medicolegal/48233