Garbage In, Garbage Out. The old programmer’s adage is used in a range of contexts, and perhaps never more potently then referring to debate on legislative proposals. If those making apolitical decision, supporting a policy proposal, or otherwise influencing the process do not have accurate information about the topic, then the results of the policymaking process are likely to be trouble. The policy proposals which each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm cares about most always relate access to the civil justice system for victims of negligence.
For years policymakers and various advocates have been engaged in a tug-of-war around a range of tort reform issues including arbitrary limits on damage awards, various rules of evidence changes, and the use of more barriers to keep certain victims out of the courthouse. In making their pitch for these laws, many tort reformers propagate information to the public at large about the medical malpractice system and its effect on society. Unfortunately, often that information is wildly off the mark. The unsuspecting public usually believes the data shared with them, which is part of the reason why the public remains misinformed about certain aspects of the system. Ask any Illinois medical malpractice lawyer and they will likely explain that the truth about the system is much different than that portrayed so often in mass media and believed by the public.
The only way fight back against this stream of misinformation is to provide a counterweight of accurate information. The Center for Justice and Democracy, for example, recently put out a handy guide entitled “The Truth About Medical Malpractice Litigation” which explores the issue in a fair way to dispel so many of the myths that permeate society when it comes to the issue. The Center’s companion blog, known as “The Pop Tort,” recently published a three question quiz based off that new guide to medical malpractice lawsuits.
For example, the first question on the quiz asks readers what percentage of new civil cases filed are actually medical malpractice case? If the hysteria conjured up by many tort reformers is to be believed, that figure might rise up to 50% of all cases or beyond. Is that true? Of course not. As the latest National Center for State Courts report revealed, medical malpractice suits actually account for well under 2% of all civil filings. Even when considering just tort cases (most personal injury suits), medical malpractice accounts only for 8% of new filings. These cases do not dominate or clog the system as much as misinformation spreaders would have you believe.
Another question on the quiz asks readers whether the filing of these suits is going up or down and by how much. Again, in an effort to persuade the public that certain legislative policies need to be enacted, some suggest that there is an epidemic of these suits. Is there really? Of course not. Over the last decade the total number of medical malpractice lawsuits has dropped substantially, around 18% nationwide. Some areas have seen decreases are large as 42% over the last decade. What this tells us, actually, is that contrary to the tort reformers, it is getting harder and harder for victims of medical negligence to have any access to the justice system. The rules are working to take away these basic rights.
See Our Related Blog Posts: