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Medical malpractice costs aren't spiking healthcare costs overall

The business of healthcare is undeniably complex. From accreditations to pricing, sourcing materials to educating providers, each step in the healthcare process is critical to patient safety. Each step in the process also tends to be quite expensive. Over the past several years, lawmakers have taken notice of just how expensive obtaining necessary medical care can be for Americans. And though they have taken steps to address this issue, healthcare costs continue to skyrocket.

Those who are less familiar with the issue and those who would prefer to see medical malpractice costs go down often blame medical malpractice awards for driving up healthcare costs across the board. In truth, these awards have not been spiking healthcare costs. However, failure to hold healthcare providers accountable for negligence does spike healthcare costs when patients are forced to pay for costly errors again and again and again.

It is worth noting that according to the Huffington Post, the cost of medical malpractice awards has dropped dramatically over the past decade. This trend corresponds with a substantial increase in healthcare costs overall. This inverse relationship should be cause for concern, not additional criticism of medical malpractice plaintiffs and their cases.

When patients are seriously injured as a result of a trusted provider’s negligence, they should be able to seek appropriate damages in court. And because some medical errors result in death, disfigurement or serious disability accompanied by significant financial loss for the patient, some of these awards should be appropriately large. It is important to note that even when large awards have been handed down over the past decade, they have not spiked healthcare costs. The industry is allowing that to occur independently and in spite of decreasing medical malpractice award amounts.

Source: Huffington Post, “It Ain't the Lawyers: Medical Malpractice Costs Have Been Dropping,” David Belk, Nov. 1, 2013

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