Tort Reform Vs. Medical Malpractice Statistics

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Politicians of all stripes have pointed to the importance of tort reform, or limiting the amount of money that plaintiffs who use Maryland medical malpractice lawyers can win from a jury award. The numbers would work out to about $54 billion over the next decade.

The focus seems to be on the bugaboo of legal remedies rather than the actual numbers. According to the Congressional Budget Office, limiting awards to $250,000 for pain and suffering and $500,000 for punitive damages would save $5.4 billion per year. However, personal injury attorneys note that over treatment and the excessive usage of tests like MRIs and others costs 40 times as much, per the New York Times.

It’s also important to note that running the numbers on some medical malpractice numbers bear the need for variable awards. A study by researchers at the University of Toronto in 2012 found that the total costs for families who have disabled children is roughly $30,500. In the United States, these costs are often borne both by health insurance companies as well as school districts. Considering that many mothers have to stop working, the average salary of $37,000 for women is another number to consider.

There are a number of cases in recent months, filed by Maryland medical malpractice lawyers and those in other states, showing that obstetricians and their nurses often fail to properly monitor fetal vital signs, leading to brain damage and other issues. Of course, there are other problems within the healthcare world, not least those for medical devices.

It would be one thing for a foreign object like a sponge to be left in a body, which happens about 40 times a week, according to Johns Hopkins University medical researchers. However, in the case of metal-on-metal hip implants and synthetic vaginal mesh implants, surgeons did not always warn patients of the risks of these devices. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed, though with most listing the manufacturer as the defendant, because major design flaws caused the devices to rupture and fail.

This has led to permanent disability, organ punctures and other problems like infertility for patients who expected to gain mobility with a hip implant or reduce incontinence with a bladder sling implant. These are permanent problems for people who may not be able to afford the costs of rehabilitation and other needs.

Also important is the finding in the data of the Johns Hopkins researchers that three in five surgeons who had to pay a jury award or settlement because of a medical malpractice case had to do so multiple times.

So juries do often match up costs of care correctly, unlike lawmakers. There is also the helpful aspect that punitive damages against surgeons will make hospitals less likely to hire them and subject more patients to the risks of botched procedures.

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