Finally, after years of complaints and griping from the American Medical Association and Florida Medical Association as well as other tort reform advocates, there should no longer be an argument that there is an ongoing Medical Malpractice Crisis.
According to a study by Public Citizen and statistics from the National Practitioner Data Bank, both the number and amount of medical malpractice payments in 2011 fell to a record level not seen since 1990. And even though the tort reform activists would try to have you believe that the “crisis” looms largest in Florida, while our doctors are fleeing the state, the statistics do not back this up.
According to the National Practitioner Date Bank, despite there being a drastic increase in the population in Florida over the last 20 years (13 million in 1990 versus 19 million in 2011), the data reveals that there was the fewest number of payouts for medical malpractice claims since 1990. Although tort reform advocates want the public to think frivolous lawsuits are rampant and need to be curtailed, the study by Public Citizen also found that more than 80% of the payments made were for catastrophic injuries that resulted in wrongful death, quadriplegia, brain damage or major or significant permanent injuries as defined by the National Practitioner Data Bank.
Despite this data, there is no evidence that patients have received any benefits (reduced medical bills or reduced insurance premiums) in exchange for the significant damage caps and other legal restrictions placed on them by tort reformers when they are injured by the medical profession.
In fact, the general public is penalized by these tort reform measures because that person who does not receive sufficient monies to pay for medical care of their injuries, will most likely seek payment form private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. This results in higher insurance premiums or higher taxes for us all. So, while the real wrongdoer walks away with having to pay less than the actual damages, we all pay.
What is not surprising though is that even with the reduction in claims and payments, the cost of medical care is still skyrocketing and medical malpractice insurance premiums for doctors have seen only a slight reduction, which completely defies the arguments of the tort reform advocates. In fact, if you listen to the speeches of the politicians who want to attach tort reform measures to any health care bills, their usual justification is that we have a medical malpractice crisis going on and we have to stop it. Yet, they never provide any objective evidence of such a crisis.
Shame on the politicians for using these scare tactics and shame on those in the public who fail to educate themselves and readily buy into their lies.