Medical malpractice payments do not really drive up healthcare costs, says a study conducted by Johns Hopkins. The study released by Johns Hopkins in early May 2013, shows that health care costs only rise about 1% when payouts are made in substantial medical malpractice claims, in the United States.
The study was published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality and it examined payments made in what they describe as “catastrophic medical malpractice claims”. These catastrophic medical malpractice claims involve payments of more than $1 million, which involve patient deaths, birth injuries, and/or other claims for problems that result in the need for lifelong medical care as a result of a medical mistake.
The Johns Hopkins study examined data from 2004 to 2010 and found that catastrophic medical malpractice claim payments totaled $1.4 billion, and it is estimated that the United States healthcare costs are around $2.8 trillion annually, therefore medical malpractice payments don’t really have as high an effect on healthcare costs as is reported by health insurance companies, doctors and other members of the medical field.
Medical malpractice payouts are much lower than is portrayed by tort reform advocates. These people advocate that the high cost of healthcare in the United States can be blamed on medical malpractice lawsuit payouts and the fact that state legislatures have the power to arbitrarily override jury decisions and cap awards, but the Johns Hopkins study shows that it really does not have as high an effect as these advocates make it out to be.
On the contrary, the Johns Hopkins study shows that the cost of actual claims pales in comparison to the cost of defensive medicine, which is unnecessary medical procedures and tests doctors conduct on patients in order to avoid lawsuits in the first place. That cost totaled about $60 billion annually, or about 40 times the cost of actual medical malpractice payouts.
In the date used from 2004 to 2010 for this study, there were a total of 77,621 medical malpractice claims paid. 6,130 of those claims were considered “catastrophic” payouts, therefore; tort reform advocates are wrong when they make the assumption that medical malpractice claims payouts result in $100 million payouts.
The New England Medical Journal, in 2011, published a study that found that only 7.4% of physicians face the risk of medical malpractice claims each year. That means that only one out of every five claims result in a settlement or payout.
Therefore; it is fare to say that far too many tests and procedures are performed annually in the name of defensive medicine, as many physicians dear they could be sued if they don’t order them. It is not the payouts that are bankrupting the system… it’s the fear of them that are.