Myths and Facts about Medical Malpractice

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical malpractice litigation has been around in the United States for approximately the past 150 years. As a result, people have had plenty of opportunities to develop their own opinions about medical malpractice and how the legal system comes into play when a patient has fallen victim to negligence of a healthcare professional.

Between frivolous lawsuits and the role that personal injury lawyers play in the success of medical malpractice cases, there are a number of misconceptions out there about medical malpractice as a whole. That’s why we’d like to take some time to list and dispel some of the most frequently referenced stigmas and connotations about medical malpractice lawsuits.

The vast majority of medical malpractice lawsuits in the U.S. are frivolous.

This is perhaps the most common misconception about medical malpractice lawsuits in the United States. In one analysis of thousands of medical malpractice claims, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that more than 90 percent of all claims involved “generally severe” physical injury, meaning that a majority of claims warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Personal injury attorneys constantly flood the U.S. legal system with medical malpractice lawsuits.

Many consumers are under the impression that medical malpractice lawyers are just greedy ambulance-chasers who sue hospitals and drive up healthcare costs. In a 2004 survey of malpractice attorneys in Wisconsin, Professor Bert Kritzer found that at least 80 percent of all plaintiffs’ requests for representation are rejected. Another study found that number to be even higher – at approximately 95 percent.

Medical malpractice lawsuits only target innocent doctors for harmless mistakes.

Many people are surprised to learn that approximately 6 percent of all doctors were responsible for 57.8 percent of all medical malpractice payments between 1991 and 2005. On average each of the doctors belonging to the 6 percent was found liable twice for personal injuries to patients, while 2.3 percent were found liable at least three times and 1 percent was found liable in four separate instances.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are far more common than the occurrence of actual malpractice.

According to multiple studies, experts estimate that approximately one in eight people who suffer some form of personal injury due to medical negligence ever files a malpractice claim. According to the American Association for Justice, medical malpractice lawsuits account for just three percent of all civil tort cases in the U.S., and tort cases make up just six percent of all civil cases.

A majority of medical malpractice cases could never have been prevented.

According to the American Association for Justice (AAJ), an estimated 98,000 people die in the United States each year from preventable medical errors. The AAJ also calls preventable medical errors the sixth leading cause of death in the country, and contends that these medical mistakes cost approximately $29 billion annually. One Harvard School of Medicine study even found that approximately 18 percent of all hospital patients are injured during their stay and that a significant portion of those injuries are life-threatening or fatal.

Medical malpractice lawsuits cause an increase in healthcare costs for the rest of us.

Compensation resulting from medical malpractice lawsuits only accounted for approximately one-tenth of one percent of the nation’s health care costs in 2011, according to a study conducted by The Public Citizens. In fact, the average size and frequency of medical malpractice payments has declined for the past several years. In the same study, researchers found that four-fifths (80 percent) of all medical malpractice awards provided compensation for wrongful death, catastrophic harm or permanent physical injury – which effectively disproves the common misconception that medical malpractice lawsuits are frivolous.


Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Seattle

As has been demonstrated here, there are a lot of misconceptions that influence the public’s opinion about medical malpractice and how our society is affected by those misconceptions. Share this post with your friends and family members to help correct some of the myths that the insurance industry surely hopes will be mistaken for fact.

If you or a loved one has been victimized by medical malpractice or hospital negligence, contact the Davis Law Group today by calling 206-727-4000 or contact us online here. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t owe us anything until your case settles or a verdict has been won.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.