This month the American Association for Justice released a comprehensive new report entitled, “Medical Negligence: The Role of America’s Civil Justice System in Protecting Patients’ Rights.” The medical malpractice report provides a broad and worthwhile overview of the prominence of medical errors and the way in which victims are aided by the justice system.
One of the main communication techniques used by big insurance companies and the medical to skew the debate around healthcare justice involves framing the issues as a medical malpractice lawsuit problem, instead of merely a medical malpractice problem. As the report highlights, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 98,000 Americans are killed each year by preventable medical errors-making it the nation’s sixth biggest killer. The lawsuits stemming from those errors are only a judicial response, not the problem itself. All talks of “tort reform” need to begin with the goal of actually reducing the number of torts (i.e. medical errors). In that way, lives are saved and families preserved. Lives must be prioritized about profit maximization for insurance companies and other big interests.
Virtually all Illinois medical malpractice claims have merit, according to mounting research data. In fact, studies have indicated that there are far more instances of medical errors that are never compensated than the reverse. The truth remains that most patients simply want their medical professionals to be accountable for the work they perform. Too often the victims are kept in the dark, and lawsuits are one of the only ways to learn what truly happened to themselves or their loved one. Full disclosure by hospitals almost always lowers the number of medical negligence claims made; all hospitals should embrace the concept.
All of this reveals that the best way to reign in healthcare costs is not by destroying the civil justice system itself but by better efforts at patient safety. Medical malpractice costs account for a mere fraction of the overall healthcare bill. However, costs associated with complications following errors run in the hundreds of billions. All reform efforts need to begin there.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti respect those who are interested in sound fiscal considerations in the healthcare field. However, we believe that the evidence clearly shows that that the solutions are not found in a butchering of our nation’s judicial principles. As with any issue, solutions are found by addressing the root problems, not the ancillary issues caused by them.
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