‘Medical malpractice’ is an ugly term–both for medical providers and for health care consumers. It drives up the cost of healthcare, forces some doctors to leave the medical field, and creates barriers to better care. As some experts will now attest–there’s a medical malpractice crisis right now. However, there are a variety of ways the insurance industry, medical professionals and attorneys are helping solve the malpractice crises. From finding a valuable medical expert witness to bolster court evidence or hiring medical legal consulting, here are a few things to know about medical malpractice.

Malpractice Definition

Malpractice Numbers Continue to Increase

In 2012, medical insurers paid out in 12,142 cases. That’s one case every 43 seconds. Most of those payments were settlements. Only about 5 percent were judgments. The largest share of payments were for failure to diagnose cases. Those cases made up about 20 percent of all medical malpractice payouts in 2012.

Doctors Miss the Mark

There’s a reason for the high number of payouts related to failed diagnosis. Recent studies suggest that medical professionals failed to order an appropriate diagnostic test in almost 60 percent of medical malpractice cases. Studies also reveal that in about 45 percent of cases, medical professionals didn’t create a proper follow-up plan. Reliable medical experts play a huge role in helping juries and judges determine whether a professional ordered the appropriate medical tests and crafted a reasonable follow-up plan for care.

States

Medical malpractice costs are higher in some states than in other. Five states account for almost half of all medical malpractice payouts. They include Florida, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania and New York.

Reasons People File Malpractice Suits

There’s a misconception that people filing medical malpractice suits are just looking for a major payout. Though a desire for compensation to make up for pain and losses is one reason people choose to file a case, it isn’t the sole reason or even the most common reason most people file, according to research.

Research suggests people file medical malpractice suits to prevent similar incidences in the future, to get an explanation as to why the error occurred, to hold medical practitioners responsible for damaging results, and yes, for financial compensation.

Researchers also learned that many suit filers felt as if doctors didn’t communicate well with them. Study participants cited doctors not listening or speaking openly and feeling like their opinions were devalued when they expressed concerns. This is one reason medical legal consulting services recommend an ounce of prevention: Medical practitioners, open communication is a key to happy patients!

Lawyer and Doctor

Priorities

Many hospitals and clinics prioritize profits over patients. This isn’t the fault of doctors! The majority of medical practitioners went into the field to help people. However, they’re working the clock, which means they need to spend less time with patients. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle! One reason doctors are so tuned to the clock is that they need to see enough patients each week to pay their malpractice insurance premiums! But spending limited time with patients increases the likelihood of miscommunication and even misdiagnosis.

Medical malpractice suits are creating expensive challenges for doctors and patients alike. Malpractice suits drive up the cost of medicine for all patients and make doctors work harder just to be able to pay their malpractice insurance.