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Medical malpractice statistics may be skewed by settlements


Medical malpractice is generally when a patient sues someone in the medical profession for negligence. In these types of cases the patient who brings the suit has to show three things: that the doctor, nurse or other medical professional owed them a duty as that licensed practitioner, that the duty was breached and that the breach of duty caused injury to the patient. This is the three-part burden that the patient bears in medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania and beyond. Negligence is not always easy to prove in medical malpractice cases, however.

The National Practitioner Data Bank keeps track of medical malpractice payouts by state. Some of these numbers may be skewed, though, because a huge number of claims for malpractice against a licensed medical professional are settled out of court. This may be because the case is a slam dunk against the offending party; or, it may mean that the defendant, a doctor for example, does not want to take up time in a possibly lengthy lawsuit so a settlement is reached. Sometimes, it's simply easier to settle. So, although the data bank gives an idea of what payments are by state, it is not all-inclusive.

Deciding to sue for medical malpractice can be a difficult decision to make. Many cases may not ever come to fruition because the injured party may not believe that they will win. Again, winning a negligence case is not easy and strong evidence has to be presented to the court for a case to be successful. This takes time and money. However, with that being said, if there is a case that the patient or the family of the patient deems worthy of a claim, then knowing one's rights and responsibilities is paramount.

Malpractice claims are complicated but winnable with the right legal help, and may be the only recourse when damaging medical error occurs.

Source: Forbes, "The puzzle of medical malpractice payouts," Michael Krauss, Mar. 27, 2014

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