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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
Attorney • (808) 845-2211

Don't Be Fooled By Insurance Lobbyists

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Medical Malpractice legislation is scheduled to come before the United States Senate. Some Members of Congress want to establish limits on the rights of victims in order to protect powerful special interests and corporations intent on protecting their bottom line – no matter the consequence. Urge your Senators to protect a victim’s right to hold wrongdoers responsible for their actions.

These special protections will cause irreparable harm to families who have suffered egregious harm.

When a child, stay-at-home mom, or retired person is injured or killed by medical malpractice, there are no lost wages to be reimbursed by economic damages, yet losses suffered by these people and their families are very real. Legislation restricting their right to adequate compensation is simply wrong.

Efforts by powerful special interests intended to allow them to avoid being held accountable for negligently causing injury or death are unfair. The civil justice system is the last recourse for people who have been harmed through no fault of their own.

When medical malpractice legislation comes before the Senate this spring or early summer, I urge you to protect a victim’s right to hold wrongdoers and those guilty of negligence responsible for their actions.

Don’t Believe the Insurance Companies’ Excuses: Lawsuits are NOT the Cause of Rising Medical Malpractice Insurance Rates

Insurance companies that sell medical malpractice coverage to doctors are hiking their prices again. They say it’s due to out-of-control lawsuits – and that rising medical malpractice costs are forcing doctors to stop practicing medicine. But multiple studies and reports prove that’s just not true. Here’s proof that lawyers are not the reason insurance companies are hiking medical malpractice rates:

Doctors Don’t Leave States Because of Medical Malpractice Insurance Rates. Recent investigations prove doctors don’t leave for this reason – even in states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where insurance lobbyists told legislatures and doctors that physicians were leaving those states because of liability and insurance problems, they were not. Josh Goldstein, “Recent Census of Doctors Show No Flight from Pennsylvania,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 2, 2001; Martha Leonard, “State Has Seen Sharp Increase in Number of Doctors,” Sunday Gazette-Mail, Feb. 25, 2001.

Injured Patients Rarely Sue. A study done by the Harvard Medical Practice Study Group determined that for every 8 instances of medical malpractice, only 1 claim was actually filed. Harvard Medical Practice Study Group, Patients, Doctors, and Lawyers: Medical Injury, Malpractice Litigation, and Patient Compensation in New York (Harvard University, 1990). And these lawsuits are the most difficult to win: the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports in a study published August 2000 that only 26% of malpractice cases tried result in an award for the plaintiff. That’s the lowest “win” rate of any tort or personal injury claim, and that “win” rate has fallen since the Bureau of Justice Statistics last issued a study on the subject in 1996. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Tort Trials and Verdicts in Large Counties, 1996 (Published Aug. 2000.)

There are Sensible Ways to Reduce the Number of Medical Malpractice Claims. A study published in the December 1999 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine found that when a Veteran’s Administration hospital promptly and fully disclosed all errors to patients – and then offered fair compensation to them – litigation costs went down. Risk Management: Extreme Honesty May Be the Best Policy (Annals of Internal Medicine Vol.131, Number 12, Dec. 21, 1999).

The Problem With Medical Malpractice Insurance is Medical Malpractice. According to the Institute of Medicine’s report To Err is Human, up to 98,000 patients die in hospitals per year – victims of preventable medical errors. That’s 268 per day. The best way to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims made in this country is to fix the cause of those claims, not to eliminate people’s rights. Institute of Medicine, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System (National Academy Press, 1999).

Relatively few doctors are responsible for a disproportionately large number of lawsuits. According to an investigation by the West Virginia Sunday Gazette-Mail, just forty doctors account for more than one-fourth of the nearly 2,300 cases of medical malpractice claims reported to the West Virginia Board of Medicine since 1993. Lawrence Messina, “Malpractice Claims Have Decreased: Study’s Findings Run Counter to Medical Association Allegations,” Sunday Gazette Mail, Feb. 25, 2001.

Write or call your Senators and tell them that they should take the side of the people in this fight, not the insurance companies and HMO’s.

Find out more about threats to your rights at www.peopleover profits.com.