There are many things that go through the minds of individuals who have been harmed or who have had a loved one harmed through the negligence of a medical professional, but one of the most common is the stigma that is attached to medical malpractice actions and whether a legal action is worth the effort. However, the fact is that medical malpractice actions bring much needed relief to the suffering of individuals and families. Many of the things that are said about these actions simply are not true. Here are some of the most common myths:
- Medical malpractice suits are frivolous actions brought by greedy people.
This is patently untrue. The vast majority of medical malpractice actions are based on severe medical mistakes that harmed or killed the patients. Studies, including one performed by the Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that most claims that resulted in compensation involved medical mistakes during treatment. Overall, a very small percentage of cases are deemed without merit, as opposed to popular mythology.
- Medical malpractice actions target doctors in general.
Although any doctor or medical professional can make a mistake, the fact is that a small percentage of doctors are responsible for a majority of the medical malpractice cases. This means that some doctors make mistakes over and over again without losing their ability to practice medicine. Lawsuits bring these repeat offenders to the attention of the licensing boards in order to increase the chance that they lose the chance to harm patients in the future.
- Most people who are harmed while undergoing medical treatment bring legal actions.
Actually, there are many different types of injuries that might occur where no mistake has been committed. People regularly suffer from negative and unanticipated, or unlikely, consequences after medical treatment. These injuries, for the most part, do not lead to medical malpractice actions. It is only where a mistake clearly has occurred or there is ambiguity as to whether or not medical malpractice has taken place that litigation is commenced, in the vast majority of cases.
- People who have suffered little or no actual harm bring malpractice actions.
According to the study by the Harvard School of Public Health, approximately 80 percent of all medical malpractice actions involve serious injury or death. This means that most individuals who bring these legal claims really need the money to pay for medical bills, replace lost wages, receive ongoing treatment, implement changes to the home and vehicle to accommodate physical changes, and receive compensation for pain and suffering.
- Injuries are unavoidable consequences of medical treatment in some cases.
While it is true that there are injuries that cannot be prevented by exercising due care, the vast majority of medical malpractice injuries could have been prevented. Doctors and other medical professionals make serious mistakes every day that lead to devastating injuries that change the course of a person’s life. These errors did not have to happen and it is important to take action to hold the wrongdoers accountable.
- People pursue medical malpractice actions to get rich.
Most medical malpractice cases do not result in large verdicts. In fact, most claims do not make it to trial, with negotiated settlements resulting in compensation for the people who were harmed as the result of a medical professional’s mistake. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average medical malpractice payout is $275,000.
- The number of medical malpractice cases are on the rise.
While there is a lot of publicity about medical malpractice cases, there has been a decline in the number of claims that are filed over the past ten years. Nearly every case is filed because someone has experienced real and lasting harm.
- People filing frivolous lawsuits prevent real cases from being litigated.
The number of cases filed by those harmed by medical mistakes is less than five percent of all tort claims that are filed in the court system, which already are a small subset of all civil cases.
- The fear of litigation alters the way that doctors practice medicine.
While many advocates of tort reform claim that medical malpractice cases make doctors practice defensive medicine, there is a very small percentage of doctors that actually do this. Most doctors do not consider the potential for litigation when determining a course of treatment or undertaking surgery.
- Capping damages will decrease insurance premiums.
One of the most common accusations leveled at those who file medical malpractice claims is that these cases result in doctors paying higher insurance rates and passing those costs on to patients, leading to higher insurance costs for everyone. However, there is no evidence that damage caps will lead to a decrease in insurance premiums for medical practitioners. In fact, insurance companies have indicated that people should not anticipate a drop in premiums if tort reform passes. Those states that already have damage caps have not experienced a significant decrease in premium costs.
Stern Law, PLLC Represents Those Harmed Through Negligence
When a doctor or other medical professional commits negligence, the resulting harm can be devastating. At Stern Law, PLLC, we fight to get compensation for the harm that was suffered after a medical professional has made a serious mistake. We believe that it is critical to have someone available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to ensure that our clients are comfortable with the process. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.