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There is reason to be optimistic in the field of medical malpractice. Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal, highlighting the fact that insurers and medical specialty groups are reviewing thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits that have either been tried or settled. One of the reasons for the review is to identify issues that threaten patient safety so efforts can be made to prevent the negligence from reoccurring in the future. This article comes on the heels of the Johns Hopkins study that concluded death by medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind cardiac disease and cancer.
This Wall Street Journal article is encouraging news in an industry that often requires confidentiality when medical malpractice cases are settled. I have had many clients who file medical malpractice claims in order to raise awareness of deficient medical care and to prevent the conduct from occurring in the future. All too often, when victims of medical malpractice are asked what they want to accomplish by filing a lawsuit, they say “so no one else has to go through this”.
This article is conclusive proof that medical malpractice lawsuits are instrumental in raising the bar in medical care. Not only do lawsuits hold negligent physicians and hospitals accountable, but they can also serve as an educational tool to help identify common errors and act as a catalyst for positive policy changes to prevent the conduct from occurring in the future.
The overall goal of medical-legal litigation, whether you are a lawyer or a physician, should be improving patient care. Learning from the lawsuits of the past will hopefully reduce the number of preventable deaths in the years to come. Any step toward meeting this goal is progress.