1. Medical malpractice case filings represent what percentage of new civil cases filed in U.S. courts?
d. Less than 1%
(d) is the correct answer. Surprised? According to the most recent National Center for State Courts (NCSC) data, in 2012 medical malpractice case filings represented well under 1 percent of all incoming civil cases and less than 7 percent of incoming tort cases in the courts of 8 states reporting.
2. True of False:
When a state enacts “caps” on non-economic damages, which proponents say will reduce the costs of so-called “defensive medicine,” costs of diagnostic imaging (like MRI’s) drops.
False, of course!
After analyzing Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, researchers found that imaging costs did not drop in states with med mal non-economic damages (NED) caps. In fact, “imaging costs in some of the states that cap NED payouts were among the highest in the nation.” For example, “California, a state with NED tort reform, was ranked among the most costly for imaging”; “the $662 mean charge in California for a level I diagnostic and screening ultrasound was 36 percent higher than that for all states.” In addition, “[o]ver the past decade, imaging charges in California have increased by 400 percent, they noted, despite the NED tort reform.” Similarly, Florida and Nevada, also “NED-capped states,” have experienced high imaging costs.
3. How many surgeries are done each year on the wrong body part?
Oh yes, the answer is (d). It's hard to even imagine something more egregious and preventable than operating on the wrong body part. Yet according to a comprehensive data review published in JAMA Surgery, every year there are an estimated 500 surgeries on the wrong body part and 5,000 surgical items unintentionally left in patients’ bodies, “which constitute too many events.” That’s an understatement. And speaking of surgeons, here’s another fun fact: “46% to 65% of adverse events in hospitals are related to surgery.”
4. A question for all you students out there. The Leapfrog Group, which scores hospital safety, says “patient safety should be Job #1 in every hospital.” What percentage of hospitals do you think get a C, D or F “patient safety” grade?
(d), again. Yikes. By now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “seriously?” Says Leapfrog, “[P]erformance on safety outcomes – including preventing errors, accidents and infections – has not significantly improved,” with 40 percent of the 2,523 hospitals analyzed receiving a C, D or F grade.
5. Finally, True or False:
Most hospitals boards view patient safety, if not their top concern, at least as one of their top two.
The answer is: False. Actually, I think the answers above already told you that. Specifically, “In general, hospital boards do not view themselves as institutional champions of quality…. Only half of boards view clinical quality as one of their top two concerns. In contrast, financial performance was a top priority for about three-quarters of hospital boards." So patient safety and finances aren't the same thing. You know what that tells me? Hospitals are not being held financially accountable for the damage they cause patients. Another way “tort reform” ruins health care for everyone.
As usual, all of this information and much more can be found in the Center for Justice & Democracy’s newly-updated briefing book, Medical Malpractice – By the Numbers (June 2015 update)!
You can be sure we’ll be back soon with another quiz about even more disturbing information, so keep studying!