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Shocking Facts about Medical Malpractice in North Carolina

Did you know that victims of medical malpractice in the United States are obtaining more compensation for their losses today than they have in years before?

In a summary of its analysis of medical malpractice payouts in 2014 as recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), the medical malpractice insurance agency Diederich Healthcare said:

“After seeing a steady decline in medical malpractice payout amounts from 2003 through 2012, malpractice payouts started to rise in 2013 and continued to rise at a steady pace in 2014 – marking a trend of increased medical malpractice payouts in the United States. … In fact, if the trend continues, 2015 could be the year that the United States crosses the $4 billion threshold. … Most states saw an increase – particularly states in the South and the Northeast.”

But here in North Carolina, medical malpractice payments fell by 29 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the analysis.

Diagnostic errors are the most common, most dangerous and most costly when it comes to malpractice claims

Diagnostic errors are the most common, most dangerous and most costly when it comes to malpractice claims, according to a study in BMJ Quality & Safety. The most frequent outcomes of diagnostic errors were death, significant permanent injury, major permanent injury and minor permanent injury.

Outcomes of diagnostic errors

According to Diederich Healthcare, the most common med mal errors resulting in payments in 2014 were:

  • Diagnostic error (33 percent)
  • Surgery (24 percent)
  • Treatment (19 percent)
  • Obstetrics (11 percent)
  • Medication (5 percent)
  • Monitoring (3 percent)
  • Other (4 percent).

The most common outcomes from medical error and the average payments for each in 2014 were:

  • Death: 30 percent – $355,231
  • Significant permanent injury: 18 percent – $426,918
  • Major permanent injury: 17 percent – $574,344
  • Quadriplegic/brain damage/lifelong care: 13 percent – $944,664
  • Minor permanent injury: 9 percent – $231,377
  • Major temporary injury: 8 percent – $198,587
  • Other: 5 percent –
  • Cannot be determined: $130,860
  • Emotional injury only: $104,892
  • Minor temporary injury: $76,056
  • Insignificant injury: $36,696.

Below are several statistics that provide a picture of medical malpractice in North Carolina and the U.S. You may be surprised by what we’ve found:

Preventable medical errors

Between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die in hospitals because of preventable medical errors every year, according to the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report.

Medical errors

Medical errors in hospitals are estimated to cost society $17 billion to $29 billion annually, according to the IOM. But the total amount spent on medical malpractice insurance in 2000 was $6.4 billion – at least three to five times less than the Institute of Medicine’s estimate of the costs of malpractice to society. (National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Statistical Compilation of Annual Statement Information for Property/Casualty Insurance Companies in 2000, published in 2001).

Medical insurance costs

Malpractice insurance costs amount to only 3.2 percent of the average physician’s revenues. (Official Transcript, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Public Meeting, December 12, 2002.)

2014 marked the second consecutive year that malpractice payout amounts in the U.S. rose, according to Diederich Healthcare. However, North Carolina was one of four states in which payouts fell.

Medical Malpractice claimsA total of $44,009,050 was paid in med mal claims in North Carolina in 2014 – 28.67 percent less than in 2013. Across the U.S., $3.98 billion in medical malpractice payments were made, an increase of 4.4 percent from 2013.

At the top, there was $713 million paid for medical malpractice claims in New York (3.52 percent more than in 2103) and $346 million paid in Pennsylvania (3.08 less than in 2013).

The NPDB reports that in North Carolina in 2014, there were:

  • 174 malpractice payments made
  • 798 adverse action reports (actions other than medical malpractice payments and convictions and judgments taken against a health care practitioner, entity, provider, or supplier
  • 171 reinstatements/restoration of medical licenses.

From 2004 to 2014 in North Carolina, there were:

  • 2,201 malpractice payments made
  • 9,969 adverse action reports (actions other than medical malpractice payments and convictions and judgments taken against a health care practitioner, entity, provider, or supplier)
  • 1,311 reinstatements/restoration of medical licenses.

Statistics and trends may paint the big picture, but at Hardison & Cochran, we focus on the losses and needs of individual clients. No law firm can guarantee the outcome of your case; you should walk away from any lawyer who promises a specific result. We will obtain and review the medical records and if we find evidence that a medical provider failed to deliver the proper standard of care, we will pursue the case aggressively.

At our firm, you have our personal guarantee of quality work, personal attention and client satisfaction.

Contact Hardison & Cochran if you have questions about your or a loved one’s medical treatment in North Carolina. We’ll review your case and your legal options for free. If you retain our firm to pursue a claim and you are not 100 percent satisfied with the way we treat you and your claim during the first 30 days after hiring our firm, you may take your file with no attorney fees sought from you and no questions asked.

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