Malpractice payments at their lowest value since 1999

Despite all the fingers pointed toward malpractice litigation as a cause of rising healthcare expenses, total malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors in 2009--$3.49 billion--represent just 0.14 of 1 percent of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' estimated $2.5 trillion in overall U.S. healthcare spending for the same year, according to a consumer advocacy association's analysis of National Practitioner Data Bank records.

According to the nonprofit Public Citizen, last year was the fifth consecutive year that the number of payments has fallen and the sixth straight year in which the value of payments has decreased, landing 2009 as the year with the lowest-valued malpractice payments since 1999 (if adjusted for inflation, since 1992). In contrast, U.S. healthcare costs have risen every year since 1965, the first year the data was recorded.

Although studies have shown that injuries and deaths caused by medical mistakes far exceed the number of actual malpractice claims filed, Public Citizen asserts that proposed "health courts" to resolve malpractice cases would cost several times the current figures if administered fairly.

For more information:
- read this Healthcare Finance News article

Suggested Articles

The profit margins and management of Community Health Group raise questions about oversight of managed care insurers.

Financial experts are warning practices about the pitfalls of promoting medical credit cards to their patients.

A proposed rule issued by HHS on Tuesday would expand short-term coverage, a move Seema Verma said will have "virtually no impact" on ACA premiums.