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Medical malpractice litigation improves patient safety

According to several surveys, patients may be told about a medical error only in about one-third of cases. Critics of medical malpractice litigation claim that the fear of lawsuits may have a chilling effect on doctors being honest about their mistakes. Yet according to a recent review study, fear of being sued may be getting a bad rap.

Researchers examined disclosure rates in countries where medical malpractice lawsuits are dramatically less frequent. In Canada, for example, the rate at which doctors get sued is about 80 percent less than in the United States. In other countries, there may be legal limitations on the types of lawsuits that may be brought against doctors. In New Zealand, patients are not allowed to sue their doctors for medical harm.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that providers in those countries were no more likely to tell patients when they had made a mistake. The conclusion that at least one commentator draws from this study is that malpractice reform is not essential to improving patient safety. 

Indeed, an attorney that focuses on medical malpractice knows that proving that a doctor was negligent is often an uphill battle, even though medical errors continue to harm or take the lives of a substantial number of Americans every year. Bringing a successful medical malpractice claim often requires as much investigation as actual litigation. An injured patient should seek out a law firm, like ours, with attorneys who understand medicine well enough to oversee the investigation and contact expert witnesses who can properly interpret any evidence that is obtained.

Source: “Medical errors in America kill more people than AIDS or drug overdoses. Here's why.” Sarah Kliff, Jan. 29, 2015





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