Medical malpractice cases are growing more frequent and compensations for them increase, reports Luke Gallin writing for Reinsurance News. This impacts not only the people directly involved in the case, but the country as a whole. The rise in claims means the rise in budgets and subsequently the rise in healthcare costs. It’s possible that tightening the regulations of medical malpractice claim lawsuits is needed to stop the negative effects caused by them.
How Did the Medical Malpractice Claims Change?
The change in medical malpractice claims might not seem all that big considering that it’s grown from 1.2% in the 2011-2014 period to 1.9% in the 2015-2018 period. However, the impact of this change has spread to every level of the healthcare industry. This means that it has affected every patient as well. The main issues that arise from these changes are associated with the growth in healthcare prices, which are necessitated by the increasing expenses for the payouts of large claims. Medication and healthcare service prices are the first to increase in order to accommodate these new changes. Healthcare insurance costs are also directly affected. This, in turn, leads to the reduction in employer-provided insurance. And reducing the access to insurance limits the accessibility of healthcare services, as a whole. Therefore, these frequent lawsuits are affecting the health of the nation, and not in a good way.
What Can Be Done to Reduce the Negative Impact of Medical Malpractice on the Healthcare Industry?
One might think that some medical malpractice cases are outright frivolous and won by skilled lawyers without actual valid causes. It’s true that situations like this happen and they, quite often, generate a lot of hype in social media. The outrage over them is what pushes some people to advocate for stricter regulations of medical malpractice. However, as points out John Elliott Leighton of Leighton Law, medical malpractice is currently the third most common cause of death in the country. This means that several hundred thousand people die every year because of their healthcare providers’ mistakes. The scope of this problem is truly enormous, and the most terrifying thing is that the increase in medical malpractice claims does not reduce the number of these deaths. Therefore, making those claims harder to obtain from the legal point of view will not solve the problem of medical malpractice impact on people. The only thing it will achieve is that the victims of such negligence won’t be able to receive compensation for their suffering. Clearly, a different solution is needed. But the only viable option is extremely complex.
To put it simply, to reduce the negative impact of medical malpractice claims, it’s necessary to reduce the number of these cases. And it’s imperative not to do this by artificially making the legal process more complex. Instead, the problem must be dealt with at the root, which means focusing on improving the quality of healthcare services and doctors’ education. One shouldn’t forget that these changes affect the doctors as well. According to authors who created an article on the impact of medical malpractice cases for the Journal of Medical Malpractice Management, this situation has already reduced the number of physicians by 6%. Healthcare facilities are severely understaffed, which increases the risk of misdiagnosis and other mistakes that result in the big claims. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be broken when the problem is addressed on its basest level. In this case, that level is the quality of healthcare services. Should it improve, the number of medical malpractice cases will reduce by default, and the rest of the changes will follow. It’s only after that should one consider changing the legal regulations for these cases, because this matter is of a secondary priority at the moment.