If you read our recent blog post, “The Five Statistics That Doctors Wish You Didn’t Know,” then you realize the importance of ensuring that appropriate, carefully-thought-out laws are in place to ensure that victims of medical malpractice are not limited in their legal settlements. According to a study published in the July 26, 2000 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association, Volume 284 by Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 225,000 Americans die every year from unforced errors in the medical community, such as being given the wrong drugs, treatments or procedures. There are many patients out there suffering with serious injuries at the hands of a doctor to the degree that these patients can no longer work, and they need to be cared for the rest of their lives. There is a steep financial cost for this that is often borne by the victim and their family. Consider this: Would doctors conduct themselves in a safer, more responsible manner while treating patients if they were given complete immunity from being held responsible for medical malpractice? If you limit a doctor’s financial responsibility for medical malpractice, do you think this incentivizes them to practice more carefully?
Remember the statistics from the study:
- 106,000 die from non-error, adverse drug side effects.
- 80,000 die from infections received while being hospitalized.
- 20,000 die from hospital errors outside of medication errors.
- 12,000 die annually from unnecessary surgery.
- 7,000 die annually from medication errors in hospitals.
If we are going to protect patients from negligent doctors, we need to find ways to incentivize them to be more careful. Putting caps on the damages people can seek does not encourage them to be more careful. The only group that truly benefits from capped damages are the insurance companies who are already doing everything they can to avoid paying out anything. Damage caps only keeps the money in their pockets, to the harm of the medical negligence victims and the medical doctors.
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