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At both state and federal levels, legislators push ever harder for tort reform, complaining of skyrocketing health care costs and pinning much of the blame on medical malpractice litigation. But a look at 2010 medical malpractice figures released by the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) suggests that reform should focus on reducing instances of medical negligence rather than constricting the ability of citizens to seek compensation for the mistakes of health care providers. For the seventh straight year, the number of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors dropped. According to the NPDB, there were 10,195 medical malpractice payments made in 2010, a decrease of more than 5,000 from a high point of 16,566 in 2001. When adjusted for inflation, 2010 medical malpractice payments were the lowest on record. Even in actual dollars, medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors in 2010 were the lowest since 1998. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit citizens’ advocacy group Public Citizen published an extensive review of the NPDB data. Among the organization’s findings was that health care spending rose 90 percent between 2000 and 2010 while medical malpractice payments decreased almost 12 percent. In fact, medical malpractice payments in 2010 comprised a mere 0.13 of 1 percent of the nation’s health care costs, according to the Public Citizen study. Yet the health care and insurance lobbies—and the politicians they fund—continue to claim that medical malpractice lawsuits are frivolous and are the root of out-of-control health care costs. This despite the fact that the vast majority of medical malpractice payments in 2010 involved instances of permanent injury or wrongful death. A deeper look at the medical malpractice figures indicates that attempting to prevent people from pursuing compensation for harm caused by medical negligence is not the answer to the nation’s crisis over health care costs. If you’ve suffered harm or a loved one was killed due to medical negligence, please contact the experienced Mobile, Alabama, medical malpractice attorneys at Long & Long, to schedule your free case consultation.

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