Medical Malpractice Payouts On The Decline?


The medical malpractice caps issue has been heating up across the country. With several states upholding — or in many cases even striking down — the medical malpractice caps that have passed in their states, the topic has never before been so hotly debated, nor as divided.

Proponents of the caps argue that healthcare costs will decline with smaller payouts. It appears that the caps may be having an effect already.

Last month, a consumer group, Public Citizen, released a widely reported study, which found that “the number and total value of malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors declined in 2011 for the eighth consecutive year.”

Despite the overall appearance that medical malpractice payouts are declining, maybe as a result of the medical malpractice caps, several states in the last two years have actually reported record medical malpractice jury awards.

According to a report by an international malpractice insurance provider, “[b]etween 2010 and 2012, at least six states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Michigan, and Wyoming — had what is believed to be their biggest-ever medical liability jury award.”

More often than not these rocket-high awards aren’t actually paid out but reduced significantly. Public Citizen suggested in its report that the decline in malpractice payments may actually be associated with judges reducing awards by juries.

While we may not be able to pinpoint exactly how caps will help the country, one item that is of the greatest importance is that patients get their day in court. If a physician wrongs a patient, s/he should be able report the physician, take them to court, and receive compensation in the event that it is due.