MEDICAL MALPRACTICE MYTHS AND REALITY

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical malpractice litigation has been around in the United States for approximately the past 150 years. As a result, people have had plenty of opportunities to develop their own opinions about medical malpractice and how the legal system comes into play when a patient has fallen victim to negligence of a healthcare professional.

Between frivolous lawsuits and the role that personal injury lawyers play in the success of medical malpractice cases, there are a number of misconceptions out there about medical malpractice as a whole. That’s why we’d like to take some time to list and dispel some of the most frequently referenced stigmas and connotations about medical malpractice lawsuits.

The vast majority of medical malpractice lawsuits in the U.S. are frivolous.

This is perhaps the most common misconception about medical malpractice lawsuits by personal injury lawyers in the United States. In one analysis of thousands of medical malpractice claims, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that more than 90 percent of all claims involved “generally severe” physical injury, meaning that a majority of claims warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Personal injury attorneys constantly flood the U.S. legal system with medical malpractice lawsuits.

Many consumers are under the impression that medical malpractice lawyers are just greedy ambulance-chasers who sue hospitals and drive up healthcare costs. In a 2004 survey of malpractice attorneys in Wisconsin, Professor Bert Kritzer found that at least 80 percent of all plaintiffs’ requests for representation are rejected. Another study found that number to be even higher – at approximately 95 percent.

Medical malpractice lawsuits only target innocent doctors for harmless mistakes.

frivolous_lawsuits
How Do Frivolous Lawsuits Hurt the Medical Industry?

Many people are surprised to learn that approximately 6 percent of all doctors were responsible for 57.8 percent of all medical malpractice payments between 1991 and 2005. On average each of the doctors belonging to the 6 percent was found liable twice for personal injuries to patients, while 2.3 percent were found liable at least three times and 1 percent was found liable in four separate instances.  With the opiod crisis in full bloom, we anticipate to see even more medical lawsuits for overdoses – for wrongful death cases.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are far more common than the occurrence of actual malpractice.

According to multiple studies, experts estimate that approximately one in eight people who suffer some form of personal injury due to medical negligence ever files a malpractice claim. According to the American Association for Justice, medical malpractice lawsuits account for just three percent of all civil tort cases in the U.S., and tort cases make up just six percent of all civil cases.

A majority of medical malpractice cases could never have been prevented.

According to the American Association for Justice (AAJ), an estimated 98,000 people die in the United States each year from preventable medical errors. The AAJ also calls preventable medical errors the sixth leading cause of death in the country, and contends that these medical mistakes cost approximately $29 billion annually. One Harvard School of Medicine study even found that approximately 18 percent of all hospital patients are injured during their stay and that a significant portion of those injuries are life-threatening or fatal.

Medical malpractice lawsuits cause an increase in healthcare costs for the rest of us.

Compensation resulting from medical malpractice lawsuits only accounted for approximately one-tenth of one percent of the nation’s health care costs in 2011, according to a study conducted by The Public Citizens. In fact, the average size and frequency of medical malpractice payments has declined for the past several years. In the same study, researchers found that four-fifths (80 percent) of all medical malpractice awards provided compensation for wrongful death, catastrophic harm or permanent physical injury – which effectively disproves the common misconception that medical malpractice lawsuits are frivolous.

Depression – In Her Own Words

Depression – Story of a 14 Year Old Battling Depression

In Her Own Words

We’ve all heard the word and have a generalized idea of what we think depression is. But has society used this condition as a blanket to cover just about every other mental illness that exists? It seems like every commercial we see on TV is another ad glorifying the latest and greatest miracle pill that will make all the bad stuff go away. And as avid TV viewers, we see the ads, listen to the words and let them just float to the backs of our minds.

We see and hear the word ‘depression’ so often that we have started becoming desensitized to the word and to the disease itself.

We know people who claim to suffer from depression and wonder if they are being truthful or if they are looking for sympathy. I mean, come on. It’s a beautiful 75 degree sunny Friday. What can you possibly be depressed about?

Well, because of constant exposure and ridicule, people who truly suffer from depression are afraid to get the help that they really need. At least, that was how it was for me.

Her Story of Depression

I had suffered from depression for years, but I never knew that was what was actually wrong with me because I never thought to seek the help I needed.

Growing up, I cried. Like a LOT. And I always played it off that I was just a sensitive person and cried easily. But even as a 14-year-old, I knew that wasn’t right. Basically, I was a living and breathing water hose. Something would upset me and, being afraid to cry, I just held it in; kinked the hose. And when there was finally too much pressure to keep contained, I let it all out. And it always happened at the most horrible times. (Because honestly, what is teenage life without your own body turning against you?!)

I remember this one time I was watching a TV show on Disney with my sisters. It was this happy/sad moment that was really sweet, but was definitely not ugly-cry worthy. And of course, I was having a bad day. So the second the guy kissed the girl, I just started sobbing, and I couldn’t stop.

Of course my sisters laughed at me (and still do to this day). And I still play if off as me just being really sensitive.

The only difference is that now I know the difference. It wasn’t just me being sensitive. I was just really depressed.

Of course, depression isn’t just crying at the most awkward times ever.

For me, depression also included unhealthy doses of fatigue, the eagerness of coming home just to go to bed, and the need to stay in bed until the end of time. Depression was killing me, literally and figuratively. I was harming my body by not eating, staying indoors, and not getting the help I needed. But it was also slowly killing the girl I knew I really was. And I knew that what I was doing was not right.

I know it is easy to look back and think of how stupid I was for letting this go on for so long. But because of the media and the negative stigma that was beginning to surround the word ‘depression’ I was adamant that I was not depressed and was just a natural introvert.

Getting Help

getting-help-with-depressionFinally, it was my fiance who helped me make the decision to go to the doctor. So, about 10 months ago, I made the decision to get help.

I’m going to admit that I was very apprehensive. When I thought about going to the doctor for depression, I could only imagine my doctor just laughing at me or not taking me seriously, giving me a prescription for one of those ‘miracle pills’ and then passing me along to my real doctor – the pharmacist. And can you guess what happened next?

Well, in case you were really trying to guess, I did NOT meet the perfect therapist. I did NOT instantly get better because of a ‘miracle pill’. And I sure as hell did not go through what I thought was going to happen.

My doctor actually took me seriously. They wanted to hear about what was wrong with me and why I thought I was depressed. After having a long (and uncomfortable) talk with them, they did put me on some medication.

And in case you are trying to guess what happened next… no, I did NOT get better instantly.

Treatment

be-stronger-than-depressionThe first month of being on anti-depressants SUCK. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to gross you out. But it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I thought about quitting so many times because I thought it just wasn’t worth it.

But almost a year later, I can look back and say that it was.  

I am no longer on medication and am doing so much better than I ever thought I could be. I still have my bad days, but seriously…who doesn’t?

I guess the point of all of this is to say that it is okay to go to the doctor if you think you need help. Society doesn’t lay in bed with you while you are hiding away from the world wondering why you are so anti-social.

And just know that no matter what, it does get better.