For years, state lawmakers have tried to implement laws that better protect health care providers from civil liability in medical malpractice lawsuits. These laws include the need for a case to appear before a screening panel before reaching trial as well as requiring an expert opinion before even filing a claim. The idea is that if health care providers are constantly facing medical malpractice lawsuits, those providers will face crippling health insurance costs which will prevent health care providers from being able to practice medicine. However, studies have shown that the health care industry may not be in such dire straits.
A study conducted in Iowa indicates that the number of medical malpractice filings has been in decline nationwide over the past 20 years – especially in Iowa. So much so, that in 2014, out of 11,000 health care providers, less than 50 claims were paid on a per-capita basis of $7.94, which ranked Iowa 33rd in the United States. As a result, Iowa has seen a decline in medical malpractice insurance costs.
For further proof of the decline of medical malpractice filings, the National Center of State Courts reported that 117,735 civil cases were filed in Iowa in 2015. 3,266 of those cases consisted of tort cases. However, of the 3,266 tort cases filed, only 160 of them involved medical malpractice allegations. This means that 0.14% of the total number of civil lawsuits filed in 2015 involved claims of medical malpractice.
While the number of claims have been lowering, the severity of injury at the hand of health care providers has worsened. For example, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center claims that medical errors in hospitals constitute the third leading cause of death in the United States. This means that the medical malpractice reform that state’s continually try to sell as a need due to rising health care costs haven’t actually improved the quality of health care but has protected health care providers from liability.
Iowa recently saw health care reform by way of placing a limit on damage awards to $250,000. The caps were put into place in an attempt to limit rising insurance costs which are said to have risen due to an increase in payouts from medical malpractice cases. However, as mentioned, medical malpractice lawsuits are actually on the decline. It begs the question, if medical malpractice lawsuits are on the decline, why are state’s continuing to institute reform laws that are aimed not at improving health care but instead put in place with a goal of saving health care providers’ money?
Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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