Medical Malpractice Awards Decrease

Medical malpractice claims in Georgia are constantly coming under fire from insurance companies and doctors who allege they raise the costs of medical care through increased insurance costs to doctors. For many years our Atlanta based attorneys have watched as these large insurance companies and medical groups spend massive sums to influence politicians to enact legislation eroding the rights of innocent victims of medical negligence.
A recent study in New York has exposed these false arguments.Data from the National Practitioner Data Bank show 1,882 medical malpractice payments in New York for $743 million in 2008, down from 2,417 payments for almost $823 million two years earlier. Yet, the premiums doctors pay for insurance have not been reduced. The report Friday urged an independent review of insurers’ premium-setting practices.
As many other studies have shown, less than 2 percent of the entire cost of the medical system is from malpractice. The Center for Medical Consumers has stated that malpractice insurance premiums are not a major contributor to the health care cost of inflation. Yet, large insurance companies and doctors groups continue to spread this false information.
In New York, consumer advocates are urging state lawmakers to allow victims and families to sue within 30 months after a medical error is discovered, instead of 30 months after the error is made, saying it is a particular issue with cancer cases and pathology reports. Current New York law, and similar laws in Georgia provide doctors an incentive to hide their mistakes from patients.
Predictably, physicians and insurance companies have opposed any legislation to revise the statute of limitations, while at the same time pushing for caps on awards for pain and suffering. Currently in Georgia, all non economic damages from medical malpractice are capped at $350,000.00. This has led to many horrible injustices and essentially created a system whereby the wealthy have greater recovery rights than those less fortunate.

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