For the first time in over a decade, medical malpractice claims and payouts increased at City-owned hospitals.
There are 11 public hospitals in New York City that treat the highest volume of patients in the nation. The largest claim increases were at Bellevue Hospital (46 percent) and Coney Island Hospital (30 percent). Overall, however, the number of claims were down while the total payout went up, suggesting that individual victims are obtaining more money to compensate for the losses they suffered. Nationally, payouts increased by 4.7 percent in 2014.
The Governor signed some major tort reform provisions in 2013 which temporarily reduced both the number of claims and the amount of payouts, but that trend appears to be reversing.
Public hospitals are by no means the only places where malpractice incidents are becoming more frequent and more severe. Private hospitals, whether or not they are technically for-profit, must walk a very narrow line between revenue and costs. These costs are extremely high, in terms of both labor and nonlabor expenses. Furthermore, most facilities cannot turn away patients because of inability to pay, so they must eat this cost. So, to make up the difference, many healthcare facilities treat as many patients as possible with the lowest amount of staff possible.
As a result, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The risks are particularly high at small and medium-sized facilities, because they are the least equipped to deal with the economics of healthcare.
Some of the more common forms of medical malpractice include:
- Surgical Errors: Low staffing levels and high patient volume is a dangerous combination, simply because doctors and nurses are tempted to cut corners in terms of patient safety.
- Environment: Bacterial infections that were unheard of just a few decades ago, including staph infections, are becoming more common.
- Misdiagnosis: A combination of a high patient caseload and a hesitancy to order expensive diagnostic tests, along with some other factors, cause millions of such incidents each year.
These cases often involve very high damage awards, because of the lifelong nature of the injuries sustained.
For a free consultation with attorneys who do not accept excuses from careless doctors, contact our office. Mr. Proner is AV-Rated based on his advocacy skills and experience.