Monday, February 13, 2012


What has better odds than the lottery, a bigger average payout, and is funded by insurance companies?

Give up?

Betting against doctors.

Although most malpractice claims are meritless — 64 percent are dropped or dismissed and only one in 100 end in a jury award for the plaintiff, according to the AMA — lawsuits are apparently becoming more common, not less. Rare settlements and even rarer jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs can at times be so large that lawyers can’t resist rolling the dice.

Cheaper to settle out of court than fight.

Suing doctors is getting easier to finance, too. Possibly the most disgraceful and little-noticed development of the last few years is the emergence of hedge funds that actually invest in large malpractice lawsuits, taking a big chunk of any award out of the patient’s pocket. According to Forbes, such investors injected $1 billion into lawsuits, including med-mal suits, in 2010.

Hedge funds?

So what kind of impact does all this have on the practice of medicine?

It's impossible to quantify how much frivolous lawsuits contribute to the cost of health care, and in turn, health insurance premiums. Estimates on the added cost range from $50 billion to over $200 billion.

With that much at stake, it makes you wonder why Obamneycrap didn't include tort reform as a way to hold the line on health care costs.

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