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How Many Medical Malpractice Cases Are Without Basis?

There are radically different viewpoints on medical malpractice. What constitutes a legitimate case versus a fraudulent case? Fraudulent cases can involve patients that suffer and die from their injuries or disease. Determining whether a possible medical malpractice case has merit takes thought and good counsel from both legal and medical adviser. Just because something goes wrong during a medical procedure doesn't mean that the doctor made a mistake. Or if something goes wrong during a medical procedure, doctors and nurses are quick to determine the cause of the problem and rectify the situation. Doctors and other medical personnel are sometimes guilty of medical negligence or misdiagnosis. These types of errors can cause patients pain, suffering, and in some cases, even their lives. But many people have medical malpractice cases that are without merit.

Medical Malpractice: 10 Reasons Why Most Malpractice Victims

Undoubtedly, there are verified cases of medical neglect and error that cause personal injury and permanent damage. These types of injuries do sometimes result in successful medical malpractice cases that have merit. However, if the case does not have evidence of personal injury or permanent damage, it may be deemed without merit by the courts.

Phlebotomy-related injuries have become common in recent years. Now specialists who make a living teaching health care providers how to avoid lawsuits provoked by a blood testing procedure. Risks of a blood test include nerve injuries and chronic pain syndromes that can render you disabled for life. This is quite a shocking finding. Blood tests are considered to be routine, safe procedures. But did the blood test cause permanent damage? The patient will need proof before they decide whether or not to litigate.

A couple of facts to remember are that 70% of all medical malpractice claims are deemed to be without merit. This does not mean that they are frivolous. It might just mean that there is no proof of injury or error. Also, doctors win 80% of the time when the case goes to trial. This statistic is an important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue a lawsuit or not.

A May 2006 Harvard University study claims about 33% of medical malpractice suits are frivolous. Reports of fraudulent medical malpractice suits have gotten to U.S. Senate to consider legislation to impose federal caps on pain and suffering awards of damages in malpractice lawsuits. A similar bill was passed in the House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate. According to the Harvard School of Public Health study, one third of medical malpractice suits studied lacked clear-cut evidence of medical error. Most of these suits did not receive financial compensation. According to the study, 72 % of the cases that lacked merit did not receive compensation, while 26% of the cases that did have merit also did not receive compensation. What these statistics say is that cases with merit (proof of injury) are more likely to receive payment than are cases without merit.
A frivolous medical malpractice lawsuit is one that has no basis in legal areas or has little evidence to support it. Frivolous medical malpractice cases are frequent and costly. This fact makes health care costs higher, which hurts everyone. If the medical malpractice case shows no visible injury, it is probably frivolous. Medical malpractice claims with either visible or permanent injury have a better chance of making an impression on a jury, and may succeed in court. Also, injuries due to medical errors won more often and received higher payments. Frivolous medical malpractice cases have little to no evidence, and are usually a waste of time and money for the litigant. Plus, lawyers are reluctant to take a medical malpractice suit with little or no proof. Some lawyers only get paid if they win the case, so they don't want to waste time and effort on a claim that will probably not win. Also, hiring experts to testify and other legal fees are expensive parts of litigation. With no evidence of injury or permanent damage, the frivolous type of medical malpractice will most likely fail.

One surprising fact is that frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits are only a small part of the problem of increasing medical malpractice costs. Most of the costs of medical malpractice expenses are due to the amount of money it costs to resolve and pay patients who win medical malpractice suits due to medical errors. Though limiting frivolous claims would cut down on medical malpractice legal costs and insurance costs, it would not help lower those expenditures as much as many people think. Most of the costs that raise medical malpractice legal and insurance costs come from payments made to people who were genuinely injured during a medical error. So another way must be found to lower the costs of medical malpractice insurance in addition to limiting frivolous medical malpractice cases. Politicians have suggested a cap on non-economic damages given to the plaintiff. Discussion continues among citizens, politicians, and doctors. Limiting frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits helps keep medical costs down, at least to a small degree. But ways are still needed to make medical malpractice insurance rates lower, and at the same time lower our health costs.