NYC malpractice costs down $3M from 2012

Malpractice costs for New York City hospitals are down $3 million from last year, the New York Daily News reports.

The city has paid $131 million to settle 262 malpractice cases in 2013, compared to $134 million for 270 settlements in 2012. The Daily News attributes the decline to the public Health and Hospitals Corporation's specialized legal team that works against surgical errors and expensive judgments. A spokeswoman told the Daily News the agency is "committed to doing all we can to prevent [these] situation[s] from happening again."

Among the high-profile malpractice settlements in 2013 was a seven-figure payout to Glen Mark, whose wife was left in a vegetative state due to an error with her epidural for a C-section.

There also was Lavern Wilkinson, whose lung cancer went untreated after Kings County Hospital staff mistakenly told her that her tests had come back normal, according to the Daily News. Wilkinson was not able to sue due to the statute of limitations on medical malpractice in New York, which, unlike most states, begins when the negligence occurs rather than when it was discovered.

"Lavern's Law," a proposed amendment in New York's state legislature, which would have altered the statute of limitations, failed to come to a vote this year, the article stated.

"Hopefully it will pass in the new year," Judith Donnell, Wilkinson's attorney, told the Daily News. "It's not something that should just be buried."

Despite the high malpractice numbers in New York, a report by Public Citizen found last year, medical malpractice awards overall fell to a 10-year low. These payments made up 0.11 percent of national healthcare costs for the year, the lowest percentage on record, FierceHealthcare previously reported. However, Public Citizen attributed much of the decline to legislation reducing patients' rights to sue rather than an actual decline in malpractice.

To learn more:
- read the article on New York's malpractice decline
- here's the article on "Lavern's Law"