Medical Malpractice – Some Shocking Realities
Availability of Medical Malpractice Insurance
The cost of medical malpractice insurance has greatly increased and, at the same time, the availability has decreased. Because medical malpractice insurance is becoming so expensive, it is forcing some doctors to leave the practice of medicine, which is causing problems for patients who have diminished access to care due to a shortage of healthcare providers.
We, as a nation, need to closely examine our healthcare practices and ask ourselves what we can do to change the number of malpractice suits currently being filed.
Why are Patients so Unhappy with Our Current Healthcare Practices?
In spite of the fact that we have highly successful treatments and cures for diseases available, along with all kinds of new technology that helps our healthcare system to detect and treat illnesses, malpractice suits continue to be filed. One study that looked at plaintiff depositions, questionnaires and telephone surveys found that the following four reasons seem to be the most common for filing a malpractice lawsuit. These reasons are:
1. Not wanting a similar bad incident to happen again
2. Wanting an explanation as to why and how the medical error was made
3. Seeking financial compensation for pain, loses, and suffering and to help with future care for the harmed patient
4. Holding physicians accountable for their actions which seemed to focus in on the breakdown in doctor-patient communication
Communication problems between patients who filed malpractice suits and their doctors seemed to occur in these areas: doctors not listening, not being forthcoming about medical issues, attempting to mislead the patient or, in the case of newborns, not warning the parent about long-term neuro-developmental problems and a feeling that physicians were unavailable, did not value the patient or family views, presented information in an unclear way or did not understand concerns that the patient was having.
Early Disease Detection and Appropriate Treatment
The healthcare system in the United States is not doing a very good job of providing care to its patients. In fact, data places the United States in the lower quadrant in the industrialized world in the areas of quality of healthcare, infant mortality, and life expectancy. Consequently, we need to question why we are paying so much for healthcare and getting so little in return.
Recent studies have shown the following five areas are problematic when it comes to early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for disease:
1. Failing to order appropriate diagnostic tests
2. Failing to order appropriate follow-up plans
3. Failing to acquire an adequate health history from the patient
4. Failing to perform a proper physical examination and, 5. Incorrectly interpreting diagnostic tests.
Cost of Medical Malpractice affects Healthcare Delivery
Until the practice of medicine focuses on making the patient a priority and not on trying to make a huge profit by treating as many patients as possible in the shortest amount of time, malpractice insurance costs will continue to rise. The majority of doctors do care about their patients but the healthcare system intervenes by placing an emphasis on profit. This emphasis on the bottom line gives the healthcare provider little time to spend with the patient which may lead to less time to communicate, diagnose and decide on the most appropriate follow-up treatment plan which can result in more malpractice suits.
The escalating cost of malpractice insurance is creating a shortage of physicians because many are choosing to leave and find a more lucrative way to make a living. This inefficient system needs to be corrected and a more efficient model needs to be implemented. Until that happens, patients will have to take a much more proactive role in monitoring their own health.
Other Factors that Increase Healthcare Costs
Healthcare costs are high for many reasons. New technologies and drugs, with drugs ranking third in healthcare spending, due in part to the approximately $1 billion cost of to develop a new drug. Overuse of specialty area physicians, possibly due to the shortage of primary care doctors who make far less than specialists. Another expensive area is administrative costs, which are mostly generated by private insurance companies due to the time-consuming claim submissions process.
Physician fees, inefficiently delivered services, unnecessary services, fraud and missed prevention opportunities are other areas that contribute to the increasing cost of healthcare. Finally, the high cost of defensive medicine, which is when physicians order diagnostic tests or treatments as a defense against the possibility of a malpractice suit being filed when, in fact, the treatments or tests may not be clinically necessary.
We’re glad you read our post. Input is always good, so please share your thoughts. For those managing a doctor’s office, and filing patient claims, JustCMS1500Forms.com is running a special on the cms 1500 form 02/12 form at the moment. You’ll find no better provider of the new cms 1500 version 02/12 form than them. Take care, and keep an eye out for my next post.