Medical Malpractice Fears May Lead to Rising Healthcare Costs

According to the Los Angeles Times,

42% of the docs in a nationwide survey said the patients in their own practices “were receiving too much medical care” and 28% said they personally were ordering more tests and making more referrals to specialists than they would “ideally like to be.”

76% of doctors surveyed said their fear of malpractice lawsuits was among the reasons that led them to over-treat patients.

But only about 7.4% of doctors have a malpractice claim in a given year, according to a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and only 1.6% of these claims led to an indemnity payment. Most doctors carry insurance to cover medical malpractice claims.
A medical malpractice suit may be brought against almost any type of medical professional, including doctors, dentists, and nurses. The organizations that employ these professionals, including clinics, hospitals, corporations, and state and federal agencies and institutions, can also be held liable for the mistakes made by their employees.

A medical malpractice claim has several elements. The plaintiff must show that:

  • A duty was owed from the provider or health care institution to the patient. (This duty exists whenever the provider or hospital undertakes the patient’s care or treatment.)
  • This duty was breached. (The quality of care provided to the patient deviated from accepted standards in the relevant medical community.)
  • This breach caused an injury to the patient.
  • The patient suffered financial or emotional damages.

New Jersey, like about 25 other states, require that plaintiffs include a “certificate of merit” when suing for medical malpractice. This is testimony from a qualified medical expert stating that there is merit to the claim. When a medical malpractice case goes to trial, expert testimony is often the key to proving the relevant standard of care, negligence, and the extent of the injury.

If you or a family member think you may have a claim for medical malpractice, contact the NewJersey Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. to discuss your options.


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