When a health care provider is found to have committed medical malpractice, they typically deviated from an accepted standard of care and caused injury to their patient. Many organizations that represent health care providers and medical malpractice insurance companies are always working hard to persuade the public that health care costs are increasing as a result of medical malpractice lawsuits and high malpractice insurance premiums. However, the truth is that health care costs are not driven by malpractice litigation and instead are due in large part to the rise of medical errors. In fact, Johns Hopkins University has reported that medical errors in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and this statistic does not even include errors that are committed by health care providers outside of hospitals. So-called “tort reform” which is apparently supposed to reduce medical malpractice insurance and health care costs would effectively deny malpractice victims reasonable and equitable compensation for their injuries caused by medical errors. By placing strict limits on who can sue for medical malpractice, and how much money they can collect, those with long-lasting and debilitating injuries are at a major disadvantage. It’s also likely that any tort reforms would just shift the responsibility of paying for a malpractice victim’s injuries from the insurance company to Medicaid or Medicare, without changing malpractice policy premiums or reducing health care costs.
As mentioned above, the statistics regarding medical malpractice injuries are significant, and some report that medical errors are at epidemic levels. In 2012, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies stated that one-third of all hospitalized patients are injured during their stay. New York has actually been ranked as one of the worst states for patient safety: in 2012, twenty-seven of the nation’s fifty lowest-scoring hospitals were located in downstate New York. Despite these statistics, the number of malpractice lawsuits filed nationwide have been on the decline over the past couple of decades. In 2011, the National Center for State Courts reported that in eight sample states, including New York, new medical malpractice filings accounted for less than two percent of all incoming civil cases in 2008. Overall, the big picture is that medical malpractice reform is not the answer to affordable and quality health care. Given the rising number of medical errors and the decline in malpractice suits, malpractice reform appears to have instead diminished the quality of health care and has insulated health care providers from responsibility for the medical errors they cause.
If you have sustained an injury that was the result of medical error, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer right away. A skilled and knowledgeable malpractice attorney can advise you of your options and help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Call the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at (516) 358-6900 or contact us via our website. We’ll help you put your life back together!