$31 billion was paid for medmal premiums in '11
Physicians, hospitals, dentists, therapists, and a host of other healthcare providers paid about $31 billion in medical malpractice premiums in 2011, which is a new record, according to a study released recently by Patients for Fair Compensation, a group based in Alpharetta, GA, that seeks to educate the public about the costs of defensive medicine.
The data showed that all healthcare providers spent that amount last year to protect themselves from lawsuits. Economists claim that malpractice premiums are built into the escalating costs of healthcare for consumers, notes Richard L. Jackson, chairman of Patients for Fair Compensation.
In addition, the study found that 19,000 patients received compensation from medical malpractice occurrences in 2011. Of the $31 billion in premiums, about 20% or $6 billion went to patients. The remaining $25 billion went to attorneys' fees and other legal costs, administrative costs, and insurance company profits.
"You can't find a more ineffective system for compensating injured patients than what we have in the United States," Jackson says. "We take in far too much money and get so few dollars to medically injured persons. The system is just not working for patients."
A fact sheet outlining the new data and a detailed description of the methodology can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/bqevory.
Patients for Fair Compensation estimates that more than $650 billion is wasted each year on unnecessary medical procedures ranging from X-rays, biopsies, CT scan, MRIs, and other tests that doctors order to keep from being sued.
Study says most doctors win litigation, but few go to trial
Not all specialties are the same when it comes to the likely outcome of a malpractice case, according to a new study.
Internists and internal medicine subspecialists are more likely than other physicians to have suits against them dismissed by courts, according to the study from the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study found that 62% of suits against internists and internal medicine subspecialists were dismissed, while only 37% of cases against pathologists were dismissed, which was the lowest rate among specialties. The average across all specialties was 54% of cases dismissed.
The authors noted that the lower rate of dismissals for pathology could be because pathology lawsuits generally relate to failure to diagnose a disease.
The authors examined more than 10,000 claims that closed between 2002 and 2005 from an undisclosed national medical liability insurer. They found that the frequency of claims ending in a trial verdict was low across specialties. Only 2% of cases against anesthesiologists ended with a jury decision, and only 7% of claims against pathologists ended with a jury decision.
Internists also were among the least likely to face a jury, with only 3% of their cases ending with a verdict. General surgeons were most likely to have a jury find in their favor, while pathologists lost the most.
Eighty percent of cases resolved after trial were in favor of physicians. Nevertheless, doctors spend significant time fighting lawsuits. The average resolution time for a litigated claim was 25 months. For cases that ended in dismissals, doctors spent 20 months defending the case, while claims resolved at trial took 39 months.
The full study can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6nu3xvh.
SOURCE-Healthcare Risk Management