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Harvard study breaks down varying medical malpractice award amounts

In our last post we discussed a new Harvard study into the number of medical malpractice lawsuits faced by doctors in Boston and around the country. The study found that most physicians will be sued for surgical errors or some other type of medical negligence during the course of their careers.

The study also indicates that only a small percentage of malpractice lawsuits resulted in payments, but the small number of payouts does not implicate that most claims are frivolous according to the researchers. The small number of payouts is most likely attributable to the difficulty in proving that a patient's injury was caused by an avoidable medical error.

The range of payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits also varied, according to researchers. The average claim in specialties such as dermatology ranged from around $117,000 to $520,923 for pediatrics cases. Approximately 66 cases resulted in million dollar payouts during the study period. An experienced Boston medical malpractice attorney is one of the best resources for patients to vindicate their rights because the attorney will build a solid case to ensure the best likelihood of a jury award for his or her client.

Some consumer groups such as Health Care for All may make it harder for medical malpractice attorneys to present certain types of evidence in lawsuits. The group wants to make doctor apologies inadmissible in Massachusetts medical negligence cases. There are studies which indicate that patients who receive apologies from their doctors are less likely to sue, and a spokesman from Health Care for All said that making apologies inadmissible will improve the quality of care. It is unclear whether the group is supported by groups associated with physicians.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Over their careers, most doctors in US will face lawsuit," Chelsea Conaboy, Aug. 19, 2011

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