"The cost of the medical malpractice liability system- all malpractice insurance premiums - fell to less than 0.6 percent of the $2.1 trillion in total national health care costs in 2006, the most recent year for which the necessary data to make such comparisons are available."
"The cost of actual malpractice payments fell to 0.18 percent - one-fifth of 1 percent - of all health care costs in 2006. Annual malpractice payments subsequently fell from $3.9 billion in 2006 to $3.6 billion in 2008, but comparative data on total health care costs are not available." (Clearly, they are rising rapidly, not falling)
Medical errors are responsible for an immense burden of patient injury, suffering and death. Errors in the provision of health services, whether they result in injury or expose the patient to the risk of injury, are events that everyone agrees just shouldn't happen. Errors are readily understandable to the American public. There is a sizable body of knowledge and very successful experiences in other industries to draw upon in tackling the safety problems of the health care industry. The health care delivery system is rapidly evolving and undergoing substantial redesign, which may introduce improvements, but also is clearly exposing Americans to new hazards.
Myths dispelled by the recent report are many. For example, the whole purpose of so called "tort reform" is based on the assertation that malpractice lawsuits are on the rise (WRONG) and without merit (also VERY wrong). It also assers that awards are excessive (Profoundly wrong because only the most injured typically receive them, and more than the number who do sue, never sue, because the system is set up to make it impossible, this lack of accountability makes doctors, hospitals and insurance companies unaccountable and likely to become even more careless, not less.)
"The relatively small amount paid out for medical malpractice generally goes to patients with the most serious injuries. More than 80 percent of the money paid out for medical malpractice in 2008 was for cases involving "significant permanent injuries"; "major permanent injuries"; injuries resulting in quadriplegia, brain damage or the need for permanent care; or death, according to NPDB reporting.
Despite the hysteria surrounding debates over medical malpractice litigation, experts have repeatedly concluded that several times as many patients suffer avoidable injuries as those who sue. The best known such finding was included in the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) seminal 1999 study, "To Err Is Human," which concluded that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die every year because of avoidable medical errors. Fewer than 15,000 people (including those with non-fatal outcomes) received compensation for medical malpractice that year, and in 2008, the number receiving compensation fell to just over 11,000.
There is no evidence that errors are any less rampant today. Most of the IOM's safety recommendations have been ignored. Meanwhile, various safety indicators continue to raise alarms. For example, the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, learned about 116 occasions in which surgeons operated on the wrong part of a patient's body in 2008 and 71 times in which foreign objects were left inside patients' bodies. Health experts call these "never events" meaning that they simply should not happen at all."