Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, shows that medical malpractice payments on behalf of doctors in 2011 were at a record low and have fallen for eight straight years. This data, says Public Citizen, is evidence that malpractice payments are not to blame for the rising cost of health care.
In the report, “Malpractice Payments Sunk to Record Low in 2011,” Public Citizen analyzed data from the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank, which tracks malpractice payments on behalf of doctors.
“Contrary to the promises of policymakers and leaders of physician groups who have spent the past two decades championing efforts to restrict patients’ legal rights, there is no evidence that patients receive any benefits in exchange for ceding their legal remedies,” said Taylor Lincoln, research director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “Instead, malpractice victims and ordinary patients end up absorbing significant costs for uncompensated medical errors.”
“When victims of malpractice do not receive compensation, their future medical costs must be borne by somebody: the victims themselves, their insurance companies or the taxpayers,” said Christine Hines, consumer and civil justice counsel with Public Citizen. “The juxtaposition of declining medical malpractice payments and skyrocketing medical costs exposes bogus claims that reducing patients’ access to legal remedies will reduce costs. The only sensible response is for policymakers and physicians to dedicate themselves to pursuing patient safety to prevent these injuries and deaths with the same vigor with which they have previously sought to restrict patients’ legal rights.”
Read the full report at Public Citizen: download here.
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