Summer vacation? Don’t be silly. It’s Pop Tort Pop Quiz time! Well, we have to commemorate the Center for Justice & Democracy’s new medical malpractice briefing book somehow. But we think you’ll like this one, so let’s get started.
1. During a recent medical malpractice insurance industry webinar sponsored by A.M. Best company, Richard Anderson, Chairman and CEO of insurer The Doctors Company -- and vigorous “tort reform” advocate -- said which of the following:
a. "The frequency (i.e., number) of medical malpractice claims is through the roof, and in fact, is approaching the highest level in our history. This is the new normal."
b. "The frequency (i.e., number) of medical malpractice claims is flat and in fact, is at its lowest level in our history. This is the new normal."
The answer is “b.” Surprised? Don’t be. This was also confirmed by industry publication Medical Liability Monitor. Anderson also said (to paraphrase a bit), “What’s surprising is that by 2016, we would have predicted an uptick in claims due to changes in the Affordable Care Act. But we are not seeing it. There has been no increase in claims and no novel claims. As to severity of claims, it is the same thing. Severity never falls. It always increases. But we see a more moderate increase than a decade ago.” (See, Briefing Book, page 5.)
2. Medical malpractice cases make up what percent of the total civil caseload?
a. 25 %
d. Less than 0.5%
Oh yes, the answer is “d.” Medical malpractice cases make up less than half of a percent of civil cases – hardly a deluge. The most recent National Center for State Courts data show that med mal cases ranged from 0.02 percent to 0.21 percent of the total civil caseload in 14 of 15 states reporting. The highest rate was 0.34 percent in one state reporting. (See, Briefing Book, page 1.)
3. What percentage of physicians with a clinical-privileges or malpractice-payment report due to sexual misconduct were not disciplined by medical boards for this problem?
Shockingly (and what isn’t in this quiz), the answer is “d.” That’s according to Public Citizen’s “Cross-Sectional Analysis of the 1039 U.S. Physicians Reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank for Sexual Misconduct, 2003–2013.” (See, Briefing Book, page 10.)
4. True or False? When surveyed, members of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons said that a state’s tort system leads them to conduct a significant number of unnecessary procedures for the sole purposes of protecting them against lawsuits, i.e. “defensive medicine.”
That is “false” - and they seem to readily admit it. After analyzing survey responses from members of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons, researchers concluded that “[s]tate-based medical legal environment is not a significant driver of increased defensive medicine associated with neurosurgical spine procedures.” (See, Briefing Book, page 31.) And speaking of the increasingly-debunked concept of “defensive medicine,” check out this study:
Do tort claims, or the fear of them, result in the adoption of practices aimed at protecting against tortious liability?…An analysis of empirical studies on defensive medicine raises doubts as to whether the assumption holds true. The findings indicate that the empirical evidence is weak and that, if there is a concern about defensive practices, it seems to exist primarily in physicians’ minds.
5. Finally, the chance of your dying due to a medical error is:
a. 1 in a million
b. 1 in a thousand
c. 1 in a hundred
d. 1 in ten
Sadly and quite scarily, the answer is “d.” Researchers believe that “10 percent of all U.S. deaths are now due to medical error.” See Johns Hopkins researchers discussing this study. (Briefing Book, page 76.)
I think that sorta sums things up. Your assignment for the rest of the summer? Stay focused on that last problem.