A recent study of medical malpractice verdicts and settlements confirms that the amounts of verdicts and settlements are down. Tennessee is one of many states that are reporting similar data. Total settlements in 2006 were down $41 million over those paid in 2005. There were only six medical malpractice verdicts that totaled about $5 milion in 2006, down from more than $6 million in 2005. Most importantly 85 percent of all of Tennesse’s malpractice claims last year resulted in no payment of damages. That means that juries found in favor of the doctor or that plaintiffs abandoned the claim when they determined it not to be meritorious. The civil justice system in Tennessee and elsewhere is working fine. Juries hold doctors personally responsible for the harms they cause should that be the case, and find in favor of doctors the majority of the time. Doctors are slowly coming to the realization that it is not medical malpractice lawsuits that are driving up their premiums, but rather overcharging by their very own medical malpractice insurance companies. Those doctors who went after their own insurance companies have managed to get money back in overcharged premiums in some states. Doctors also have successfully sued health care providers for not reimbursing doctors as they should. The so-called medical malpractice “crisis” is really a political tool used to try to convince legislators to enact caps and other pro-doctor legislation. Fortunately for those harmed by medical malpractice, most legislators aren’t being fooled any longer by the rhetoric of the lobbyists for the doctors.
For more information on this subject please refer to the section on Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care.