Medical Research on malpractice
Two recent studies shed additional light on the frequency and success of medical malpractice claims. Contrary to the suggestion that many doctors are unfairly victimized by malpractice lawsuits, a recent study by the University of Michigan confirms that juries show an "overwhelming" tendency to side with physicians in malpractice litigation. The authors compiled the data from seven prior jury verdict studies published between 1989 and 2006, and then presented it to objective expert physicians in the relative fields. While the experts found that roughly half (50 percent) of the victims' claims had merit, the jurors' verdict had been for the health care provider in 80 percent of all cases.
This research supports the victims' rights' representatives who have been claiming for years that doctors are not unfairly victimized by malpractice: medical insurers have used that argument for decades to push for "malpractice reform", without reducing physician premiums.
Asked to comment on the study, Michelle Mello, an associate professor of health policy and law at Harvard University, argued that it is malpractice victims who are being victimized a second time by current litigation rules and procedures. Harvard published a study several years ago documenting the fact that only one of eight malpractice victims receives proper compensation. Mello thinks that the only solution to this problem which is fair to victims, involves taking these decisions away from juries and allowing them to be made by qualified experts who are independent of the medical profession.
In any event, these studies document the importance of retaining a highly experienced and specialized attorney. They also confirm the wisdom of fully investigating potential cases before putting client finances or medical care relationships at risk.