The Readers’ Forum section, The Miami Herald published a letter from a South Florida doctor containing various assertions about medical malpractice litigation. The letter angered my wife, who decided that a response was necessary. Here it is:
Dr. Jerome Reich’s statement that “about 25-30 percent of the cost of our system is directly related to malpractice litigation, defensive medicine because of the threat of litigation and flagrantly ridiculous cases that some attorneys take on a contingency basis simply for “settlement”” is inflammatory and wrong.
Through years of misrepresentations, the insurance and medical industries have convinced the general public that every medical malpractice jury verdict favors the patient regardless of the merits of any particular case. The statistics tell a much different story. According to a 2001 study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, medical malpractice plaintiffs win only 27% of trial cases. There are many other studies with similar results. Interestingly, when this issue was brought up before the Florida legislature several years ago, the people making these inflammatory statements would not do so under oath.
A large focus of the conservative position on health care reform has been that frivolous lawsuits drive up health care costs and require doctors to practice “defensive medicine” that is costly and wasteful. However, the health economists and independent legal experts who study the issue do not believe that is true. They say that malpractice liability costs are a small fraction of the spiraling costs of the U.S. health care system, and that the medical errors that malpractice liability tries to prevent are themselves a huge cost both to the injured patients and to the health care system as a whole. Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of The Medical Malpractice Myth states “If you were to eliminate medical malpractice liability, even forgetting the negative consequences that would have for safety, accountability, and responsiveness, maybe we’d be talking about 1.5 percent of health care costs.”
The bottom line to me is that medical malpractice lawyers provide a much needed service. Heaven forbid that you or a family member be the victim of medical malpractice and have no legal recourse. Without legal recourse, what incentives are there to make our medical system better?
Contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your legal rights.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.