Health insurance and the healthcare industry have been in the news a lot lately: the rising cost of healthcare is a hot-button issue.
During the debates about healthcare, you’ll likely hear about medical malpractice suits. In fact, you’ll hear some individuals say that the number of suits is out of control, which contributes to the rising cost of healthcare in this country. But here’s the truth about medical malpractice.
To start, let’s define medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider “deviates from a recognized ‘standard of care’ in the treatment of a patient,” according to a recent Forbes article. Basically, it is negligence on the part of a healthcare provider, like a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, etc.
Many people have “horror stories” about healthcare professionals; however, these are typically more in line with being kept waiting for two hours than actual medical negligence. With that in mind, just how common is medical malpractice? According to the Journal of American Medical Association, medical negligence is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. Keep in mind that a patient doesn’t have to die in order for an incident to be considered medical negligence, so that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Here’s a statistic that might provide more insight: In 2012, over $3 billion was spent on medical malpractice payouts.
The above statistics might have you thinking that everyone but you is out there suing medical professionals, and based on the $3 billion paid out in 2012, you may think those suits are being decided in favor of the patient. However, medical malpractice cases are tricky. They have a high likelihood of failure and can be extremely expensive and time-consuming. Only 15 percent of the personal injury lawsuits filed each year in the United States involve medical malpractice claims, and more than 80 percent of those claims end with no payment to the patient.
The first step for anyone who believes they are a victim of medical malpractice should be contacting an experienced malpractice attorney. An attorney will be able to help a malpractice victim navigate the pitfalls of medical
bureaucracy, including knowing when to settle out of court.
Fortunately, there are things that we can do to help protect ourselves from medical malpractice. To start with, we need to be conscientious consumers. This means we need to understand our health conditions and any treatments. The article reports, “They [patients] should ask healthcare providers a written list of questions that they feel are important and expect indeed, demand full and complete answers. And don’t be afraid to find a new doctor if you don’t feel that you’re receiving proper medical care.” It’s vital not to be intimidated by medical professionals and the medical system. After all, it’s your health.