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Contrary to Myth, Medical Malpractice Remains Disturbingly Real

In a more rational world, the myth that many medical malpractice suits are unjustified would not even have gotten started. Unfortunately, the myth has somehow managed to remain alive – despite ample evidence to the contrary showing how dangerously widespread medical malpractice really is.
Every so often, however, criticisms do punch holes in the falsehoods that the myth tries to perpetuate. One of those is the notion that the cost of medical care would be substantially less were it not for out-of-control lawsuits.
Seven years ago, Tom Baker, a law and health sciences professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published a book showing how flawed this notion is. So-called “tort reform” is actually a red herring, because even if it were implemented it would not bring down costs.
If you look at the evidence, the number medmal tort claims is actually very small compared to the extent of medical malpractice that occurs in practice. After all, one recent study from the Institute of Medicine estimated that the number of deaths from medical errors could be as many as 98,000 a year. Indeed, it could even be more than that.
That isn’t the only problem with the malpractice myth, either. There is also the injustice of imposing arbitrary caps or procedural bars that can prevent injured people from seeking legitimate compensation for their injuries.
In recent months, the documentary film “Hot Coffee” highlighted the unfairness that can result when legislatures stack the deck against plaintiffs through such means and courts do not intervene.

Author

Jay W. Dankner

JAY W. DANKNER was born, raised and educated in Brooklyn, New York. After graduation from law school in 1973, he joined the firm of the legendary, Harry H, Lipsig, under whose tutelage he learned the intricacies of civil litigation and trials. He tried and won his first case against General Motors in a case involving a design defect within weeks after his admission. Thereafter, he focused his attention on the emerging and developing field of law known as products liability litigation.

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