Medical Negligence Judgments Increasing? No – Not Even As Much As Medical Inflation

There is yet another article that provides more data undermining the alleged need for restrictions on the right of patients to sue negligent health care providers.

According to the abstract of a study published in Health Affairs “we used data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) to study the growth of physician malpractice payments. Judgments at trial account for 4 percent of all malpractice payments; settlements account for the remaining 96 percent. The average payment grew 52 percent between 1991 and 2003 (4 percent per year) and now exceeds $12 per capita each year. These increases are consistent with increases in the cost of health care. A preoccupation with data on judgments, extreme awards, or specific specialties results in an incomplete understanding of the growth of physician malpractice payments.”

Almost every week there is another study that demonstrates that the so-called “crisis” is one manufacturered by the insurance and health care industry. The current “crisis” is about over; the next one will be occur in about seven years.

What will happen then is this: All of those states who did not pass tort reform this time around will be labeled as “crisis” states. The pressure on those states will increase because they need to be “competitive.” Reform (read: restrictions on patient rights) will pass in a few more states but the doctors will still end up paying an increasing amount for insurance because of inflationary increases in the cost of medical care. The doctors will be told “Yes, we are raising rates again – but it we would have raised them more without tort reform.”

And the insurance industry will be laughing all the way to the bank.