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Wednesday, April 18th 2012

The Costs of Defending A Malpractice Claim

Claims of malpractice against physicians, even claims that do not lead to payments to the plantiff, implying some level of evidence for the physicians’ care end in significant cost for defense.

[A]lthough the costs of dispute resolution are higher for claims that result in indemnity payments, there is still a meaningful cost of resolving claims that never result in payment

The median cost for claims in this study with no indemnity payment was $22959. To be fair these are costs borne largely by the insurers and not by the providers themselves but not doubt it contributes some small amount to the costs of healthcare.

It is true even factoring in defense costs and the costs of defensive medicine the contribution of our messed up malpractice system to total healthcare costs is not what most American physicians imagine it.

But that fact shouldn’t lower malpractice reform on our agenda. It isn’t solely a matter of costs but a matter of justice. A reform of the specialty malpractice system should include specialty courts and those courts and systems for mediation should have the power to force the plantiffs, not just in frivolous cases but in all unsuccessful cases, to make the plantiffs take on some or all of the defense costs.

I know that would discourage legitimate malpractice suits but considering the costs in defense, especially the costs of claims that do not lead to payment, I think such would be an important reform.