An article released recently by Take Justice Back published some alarming facts about medical care with their headlining sentence reading “[r]esearch has confirmed that 440,000 people die every year because of preventable medical errors.” The article goes on to note that the figure 440,000 is similar to the population of Atlanta, Georgia.
Imagine – Atlanta, Georgia, a city that easily falls within the Top 40 Largest Cities in all of the United States – wiped out by the negligence of another person that could have been prevented. Keep in mind, this figure does not include those persons who are irreparably injured by a medical professional, but are still alive.
The civil justice system is one of the few ways a person, or their loved ones, are able to seek justice for these kinds of wrongs that have happened to themselves or their families. In the news the legislature likes to use the terms “affordable healthcare” and “ease of access” when referring to Tort Reformation; what this really means is a lack of options for you, the person that has been injured.
Medical damage figures have been negatively publicized for years, one of the most famous being the McDonalds hot coffee case (for a recitation of the facts of that case – click here). Normally, the response would be “two million dollars plus for spilling coffee IS ridiculous,” however, most of that money was to send McDonald’s a message that we’re not putting up with 180+ degree coffee anymore – it’s dangerous!
The idea behind tort reform and putting a cap on damages is that the plaintiff, or the injured party, may prove their injuries in court up to a certain amount, but any sum over that will not be allowed to recover, regardless of your injury. This “one size fits all” agenda is not plausible in most scenarios.
For example, a young girl injured just after completing college and scoring her first paying full time job. Unable to work for the rest of her life, but saddled with bills, she would only be able to recover up to the capped amount and no more. Leaving the doctor held unaccountable for his actions and ruining a young girl’s life.
Healthcare should be efficient, accessible, low cost, and timely, much like the bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed in 2012, but by taking away the legal rights of patients that have been wronged and encouraging the negligence of health providers, that is not the result the U.S. will see.
Take Justice Back quotes some interesting facts in their article:
- 440,000 patients die every year from preventable medical errors. [Journal of Patient Safety]
- Preventable medical errors cost our country tens of billions of dollars a year. [Institute of Medicine]
- One in three patients who are admitted to the hospital will experience a medical error. [Health Affairs]
- Studies of wrong site, wrong surgery, wrong patient procedures show that “never events” are happening at an alarming rate of up to 40 times per week in U.S. hospitals. [Archives of Surgery]
- Medical negligence lawsuits amount to just one-half of one percent of all health care costs. [Congressional Budget Office]
- Medical negligence cases represent well under 2 percent of all civil cases. [National Center for State Courts]
- Researchers at Harvard University found that 97 percent of cases were meritorious, concluding, “Portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.” [New England Journal of Medicine]
If you or someone you know has been injured by a medical professional, call an experienced personal injury attorney that can help you hold that professional accountable for their errors.