Study: Medical Malpractice Claims Not Linked To Health Care Costs

A recently released study by the consumer group Public Citizen indicates that medical malpractice litigation is not a driving factor in overall healthcare cost increases.

Medical malpractice litigation is a term given to the broad array of lawsuits that arise against physicians, nurses and hospitals for patient injuries associated with medical negligence. Common medical malpractice claims involve the failure to diagnose cancer, birth injuries and medication errors.

Many physicians groups have lobbied politicians to reduce the amount of payments that can be given to patients harmed by medical negligence. The main argument for medical malpractice tort reform is that lawsuits harm all patients by driving up healthcare costs for everyone. The recent study by Public Citizen indicates that malpractice costs are just 0.12 percent of all national healthcare costs despite malpractice payouts being at all time lows.

When victims of malpractice do not receive compensation, their future medical costs must be borne by somebody: the victims themselves, their insurance companies or the taxpayers, said Christine Hines, consumer and civil justice counsel with Public Citizen. The juxtaposition of declining medical malpractice payments and skyrocketing medical costs exposes bogus claims that reducing patients access to legal remedies will reduce costs.

Hines added that policymakers and doctors should be focused on improving patient safety and not curtailing patient rights.