Some medical malpractice assumptions stand corrected in Texas

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2013

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When some Texans hear the term "medical malpractice lawsuit," it may be their gut reaction to think of exorbitant payouts and resulting increases in health care costs. This reaction, however, is based on false assumptions. Medical malpractice claims enable injured Texans to seek compensation that they justly deserve for injuries suffered due to a doctor error, for example, without a significant impact on overall health care costs.

A study was recently conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine demonstrating that medical malpractice awards only account for a fraction of health care expenses. The study looked at large payouts between the years of 2004 and 2010. Because of the increased media and public attention they receive, they study found extremely large payouts to be less common than some might think.

More increased health care costs stem instead from defensive tests and unnecessary services. Many doctors are concerned with trying to protect themselves from lawsuits and therefore, conduct many tests on their patients that are not entirely useful or even necessary. One way to change this focus is by changing the standard of care expected of doctors; instead of focusing on the practice of the average doctor, some suggest that the focus should be on what a reasonable doctor would do.

A medical malpractice claim is brought about when a health care provider does not put forth the effort or care that they should in a health care setting. When this standard of care is not met, an injury must be the casual result in order to pursue a medical malpractice claim. Doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals can all be held responsible for medical malpractice. Injured parties are able to seek compensation for missed time at work and medical expenses as well as for pain and suffering. Families who lose a love one to medical malpractice are also able to bring forth a wrongful death claim.

Texas residents are not without options, and should not hesitate to exercise their rights to file a claim due to any stigma associated with medical malpractice lawsuits. The effect of medical malpractice awards on health care costs overall is negligible, but they can make a world of difference to a victim or family.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Medical malpractice study finds high payouts not a huge drain," Terry Baynes, May 17, 2013

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