Diederich Healthcare recently published its annual analysis of medical malpractice payouts in the U.S. Its report on 2013 is based on information provided to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a system created by Congress to collect health care statistics in order to identify possible avenues of improvement. Researchers discovered that 2013 was the first time in a decade that total medical malpractice payouts in the U.S. increased. Interestingly, New York led all states in per capita payouts in medical malpractice suits.
Medical practitioners are required to report to the NPDB information regarding any payout that is made after a written demand is sent. This information must be provided to the database within 30 days. The NPDB does not, however, collect information regarding payouts made by hospitals because they are not considered to be medical practitioners.
In reality, the vast majority of medical malpractice plaintiffs settle their cases with their physicians. In cases where claims do proceed to trial, doctors actually prevail quite often. The reason is simple: doctors are more likely to want to litigate when they are confident that they were not negligent and more likely to settle in cases where questions of negligence are not so clear.
It is most useful to examine year-to-year per capita payout information rather than total payout information because of the differences in population among the states. For example, the payout total in New York is certain to be higher than the payout total in a less populous state such as Maine.
According to the Diederich study, New York saw a per capita payout in medical malpractice suits of $38.99 in 2013. This number is 50 percent higher than that of any other state. Experts believe that a great deal more research is needed in order to understand what this number means. Are doctors in New York, for example, more likely to report information to the NPDB? Does New York law somehow create an atmosphere where high payouts are more likely? Other wealthy, populous states, such as Connecticut and New Jersey, are also in the top ten with respect to per capita payouts. Are all these states doing something similar?
It is important for those who have been injured as a result of medical negligence to remember that they have rights. Even though parties often settle medical malpractice cases, it is sometimes necessary to proceed to trial. To learn more, schedule a consultation with a litigation firm that specializes in medical malpractice cases.