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Is it getting harder to hold doctors accountable?

A new analysis may signal cause for concern among health care advocates and informed patients. Based on data collected between 2002 and 2013, researchers found that rates of paid medical malpractice claims declined. Unfortunately, fewer paid claims do not necessarily mean fewer patient injuries.

Indeed, as an attorney that focuses on medical malpractice knows all too well, hospitals may have the resources of insurance carriers and legal defense teams to intimidate injured patients from filing meritorious claims. Responding to all of the insurance paperwork after a patient injury can also be overwhelming and may discourage others. 

Another psychological obstacle may be the time frame: a medical malpractice case may take months or even years to conclude. The cost incurred during that litigation period may be substantial. In addition, experts may be needed to testify about complicated medical procedures and technology, billing at hourly rates that can be very expensive. All the while, a patient may require ongoing care and have mounting medical bills to worry about.

Yet potential costs or delays should not be a reason to avoid holding doctors or hospitals accountable for medical negligence. Don’t attempt to handle the psychological barriers to bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit on your own. Instead, turn to an experienced attorney for help. An attorney can provide an injured patient with perspective about what to expect from this type of lawsuit. A patient can also take comfort in knowing that his or her legal action may be a catalyst for change, and help future patients from suffering the same type of injury.

Source: MedPage Today, “Medical Malpractice Reform,” J. Duncan Moore, Jr., Nov. 12, 2014

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