An American Medical Association report on malpractice suits pointed out that 61 percent of doctors 55 and older have been sued at least once, as reported on the AMA's Web site. The report also finds that men are twice as likely as women to be sued and doctors in specialty practices are sued more often than those in multispecialty practices.
Former AMA President Dr. J. James Rohack, MD, said he believes the data supports the view that reforms are needed at the federal and state levels to reign in the high volume of medical malpractice suits:
"This litigious climate hurts patients' access to physician care at a time when the nation is working to reduce unnecessary health care costs."
Chicago injury lawyers who represent clients in medical malpractice suits probably would argue that Illinois lawmakers, at least, already attempted to use legislation to reform tort law.
State legislators passed a law in 2005 that capped damages for pain and suffering claims at $500,000 in cases against physicians and $1 million in cases against hospitals, as stated in a recent Chicago Tribune article. But the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the law, arguing that it violated the state's separation-of-powers clause.
Supporters of a renewed effort to rein in medical lawsuits cite a new study by Harvard researchers finding that malpractice suits cost the U.S. health care system more than $55 billion annually. That represents about 2.4 percent of total health care spending.
Research lead Atul A. Gawande, MD, of Harvard Medical School, conceded in a MedPage Today article that the relatively small ratio is much less than "some imaginative estimates put forth in the health reform debate, and it represents a small fraction of total health care spending." Most plaintiffs' attorneys have been making the same argument.
Contact an Illinois injury lawyer if a you have a serious medical malpractice claim.
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