Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MedMal Cases NOT the Cause of Increased Healthcare Costs

The National Practitioner Data Bank was established by Congress to collect information concerning sanctions taken by State licensing authorities against all health care practitioners and entities. Among other things, the NPDB, is intended to improve the quality of health care by encouraging State licensing boards, hospitals, professional societies, and other health care organizations to identify and discipline those who engage in unprofessional behavior; to report medical malpractice payments; and to restrict the ability of incompetent physicians, dentists, and other health care practitioners to move from State to State without disclosure or discovery of previous medical malpractice payment and adverse action history.

Statistics recently released from the NPDB for 2010 show that for the seventh straight year the number of medical malpractice payments made by doctors fell. The date also shows that the cumulative value of malpractice payments in 2010, when adjusted for inflation, was the lowest since 1990 when the databank was created

PublicCitizen (which, for purposes of full disclosure, is an extremely pro-plaintiff organization, read about them here) analyzed the new data from the NPDB and found that:

Since 2000, health care spending rose 90 percent while medmal payments fell 11.9 percent;

Malpractice payments in 2010 amounted to just 0.13 of 1 percent of national health costs, the lowest percentage on record; and

Total costs for malpractice litigation fell in 2009 to a third of a percent of health costs, the lowest level since the NPDB formed.

Even with the plaintiff-centric spin placed on the NPDB's data by Public Citizen these figures are eye opening. Pretty much anytime a large medmal verdict hits the newswires you will find lengthy discussions online of people screaming that medmal cases are the source of our healthcare woes. But the facts simply do not support that conclusion. Medmal payouts have been steadily decreasing each year for the past decade while healthcare costs continue to skyrocket. Clearly, the two are not correlative. Share this post :
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