Thursday, May 11, 2006

Harvard Study on Medical Malpractice

Researchers at Harvard University published the results of a medical malpractice study in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Here are some of the results:
  • Out of the 1452 medical malpractice claims studied, 63% involved medical error while 37% did not involve any medical error
  • Out of the 63% of claims that did involve medical error, 27% did not result in a monetary award (16% of total)
  • Out of the 37% of claims that did not involve medical error, 28% did result in a monetary award (10% of total)
  • Awards for non-medical error claims averaged 40% less in monetary compensation than claims that involved medical error
  • Claims involving medical error accounted for about 85% of the entire system cost
  • 97% of the claims studied were a result of a medical procedure that led to some injury to the patient
  • 65% of the claims studied were a result of a medical prodedure that led to significant physical injury or death
Overall, the results of the study show that the medical malpractice system in the US works well, although there is room for improvement. Too many patients who file a claim after being harmed as a result of medical error are denied compensation (16%), while too many patients who were harmed without medical error are given compensation (10%).

But it is pretty clear from the study that if a major award is given out, it's highly likely it's justified.


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