Crisis, what Crisis? Medical malpractice lawsuits account for less than 1% of all civil suits and have been declining for nearly 10 years. In 2008, fewer medical malpractice claims were filed by patients in Louisiana than in any year since 1996. The insurance market is so strong in Louisiana that the largest medical malpractice insurer in Louisiana has returned a 20% dividend on written premiums to its Louisiana doctors each of the last two years.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), less than one and one-half percent of overall health care spending in the United States is related to medical malpractice suits. While there is evidence that some doctors run unnecessary tests to generate more income for themselves, there is no credible evidence that “defensive medicine” increases health care costs. Rather, good doctors run additional tests to aid in their diagnosis of their patients. The only way to reduce medical malpractice suits is to hold doctors accountable for their unacceptable errors and mistakes. Juries and fellow doctors must stop protecting bad doctors. As long as bad doctors are “given a pass”, they will continue to cut corners and perform below the standard of care.
In Louisiana, the Medical Malpractice Act protects doctors and other qualified health care providers with a $500,000, plus medical expenses, cap on damages. This draconian $500,000 cap on damages includes lost wages. So, if a 20 year old husband and father of two infant children is killed by medical malpractice, the most his widow and infant children can recover, including for lost wages or support, is $500,000. This is a joke.
Not only is the cap on damages so low as to be unconscionable, but the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act requires that three Louisiana doctors review the case against their fellow Louisiana doctor prior to suit being filed. Anyone who thinks the “conspiracy of silence” and “good ole boy” system is not alive and well in Louisiana is fooling themselves. The extent to which many doctors reviewing Louisiana medical malpractice cases will go to protect their fellow doctors is absolutely shocking.
Doctors and hospitals in Louisiana are not suffering from any malpractice crisis. The Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act was enacted in 1975. Doctors and other qualified health care providers are ONLY liable for $100,000 of the damages caused to their patients. The Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) is liable for the remainder, including future medical expenses. And, since 1975, the Louisiana PCF has paid in excess of $4.5 million in Just 20 medical malpractice cases, including for medical expenses for brain damaged babies and other malpractice victims requiring 24 hour attendant or custodial care. If there is a crisis in Louisiana, it is the crisis of the medical malpractice victim who can no longer work or care for his or her family following an unacceptable medical error and who cannot obtain fair and equal justice.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed by an unacceptable medical error or mistake, contact the Baton Rouge, Louisiana medical malpractice lawyers at Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews. Email Louisiana medical malpractice lawyers or call (800) 929-7481 to schedule a free consultation.