AMA Medical Liability Study Provides Misleading Statistics, Illinois Attorney Says

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Illinois medical malpractice lawyer Patrick A. Salvi says a recently issued American Medical Association study provides results that could be used to wrongly connect rising health care costs with medical negligence lawsuits.

Patrick A. Salvi

Health care costs may be rising in Illinois and other parts of the country, but it's not because of medical malpractice litigation. To use this study to make that connection is simply wrong.

A recently released American Medical Society study showing a high percentage of physicians are sued at some point in their careers could be used to support calls for tort reform, Illinois medical malpractice lawyer Patrick A. Salvi admits.

But that would be misleading, Salvi says, pointing to other studies that have shown little if any connection between health care costs and medical negligence lawsuits.

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, medical malpractice amounts to less than two percent of overall health care spending,” says Salvi of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., a leading Illinois personal injury law firm with offices in Chicago and Waukegan.

“Health care costs may be rising in Illinois and other parts of the country, but it’s not because of medical malpractice litigation. To use this study to make that connection is simply wrong.”

The AMA study analyzed the responses of 5,825 physicians who participated in the AMA’s Physician Practice Information Survey. The report was released in August.

The study found that about 4 out of 10 physicians are sued at some point in their career, or 42.2 percent, including 6 of 10 doctors who practice until age 55 or older. About 22 percent of physicians are sued twice or more in their careers.

Physicians sued, by specialty, were: General surgery (69.2 percent), obstetrician-gynecology (69.2), surgical subspecialties (57), emergency medicine (49.8), radiology (47.4), anesthesiology (42.4), internal medicine subspecialties (40.2), general and family practice (38.9), pathology (34.9), general internal medicine (34), pediatrics (27.3) and psychiatry (22.2).

Obstetrician-gynecologists were the most likely to be sued twice or more in their careers at 52.1 percent.

“I think if you look at these results, it shows that a small percentage of physicians seem to be responsible for the majority of medical errors that lead to patients’ injuries,” Salvi says.

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have for years called for tort reform measures, such as placing caps on damage awards. However, in February, the Illinois Supreme Court in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (Consolidated Docket Nos. 105741 & 105745) struck down a state law that attempted to cap non-economic damages, such as those for pain and suffering, at $500,000 from physicians and $1 million from hospitals.

“Everyone wants to see affordable and accessible health care,” Salvi says, “but you can’t infringe on the rights of patients who have suffered very real and very serious injuries that can have a devastating impact on the lives of them and their families.”

About Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. is a leading Illinois personal injury law firm with offices in Chicago and Waukegan. The firm focuses on medical malpractice, personal injury and wrongful death cases, including car and truck accidents, airplane and train accidents, construction injuries, faulty products, birth injuries, brain injuries, unsafe properties and animal attacks. The firm’s success in personal injury, accident and wrongful death cases includes more than 160 multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements. A number of these settlements and verdicts are among the largest of their kind in the state of Illinois. To learn more about Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., call (847) 249-1227 or use the firm’s online form.

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