Every day health care professionals play an important role in the well-being of our citizens in Oregon and across the United States. Dedicated doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other practitioners work hard to help us maintain optimal health, whether treating acute issues, chronic problems or providing emergency care. It’s difficult to overstate the value of professionally-delivered health care. Unfortunately, we also know that every day there are health care professionals who provide a deficient level of care, which fails to meet the standards set by the law and by society. The results of this deficient care can cause tragic harm, and even death, to patients. The best way society can discourage negligent performance by all professionals is to hold them accountable for their wrongful conduct. In this article, we will discuss medical malpractice and compare the rates at which it occurs in Oregon to rates at which it occurs around the country.
Medical Malpractice Reported Around the Nation
Below we discuss medical malpractice statistics based upon two different measures. The first relies upon the collection of reports filed by medical care providers (including various entities). Of course, unreported medical malpractice would not be captured in these numbers. The second measure is based upon the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed across the nation.
National Practitioner Data Bank
Pursuant to federal law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created and maintains a National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). The law requires specified health care practitioners and entities, such as hospitals, to file Medical Malpractice Payment Reports and Adverse Action Reports (AARs). “Adverse Actions” include limitations on: membership in professional societies, clinical privileges, licensure, and Medicaid and Medicare exclusions. NPDB research statistics combine data from 2006 through 2016. A final total is provided for every state.
First, 143,713 Medical Malpractice Payment Reports and 433,151 Adverse Action Reports were filed across the nation. Oregon accounted for 1,359 Medical Malpractice Payment Reports and 9,001 Adverse Action Reports. Some states had many more reports than Oregon, but many also had far fewer. Of course, this can partially be explained by differences in state populations. For example, the research used census data showing Oregon with a population of approximately 4.1 million, while New York, for example, had a 19.75 million population.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Filed
Zippia analyzed data from the NPDB to determine which States file the most medical malpractice cases on a per capita basis, thereby equalizing population differences. The analysis lists suits per 100,000 population and includes an interactive map. Louisiana placed first, with 44.1 lawsuits per 100,000 population. Hawaii placed 51st (including the District of Columbia in the ranking), with 4.9 suits. Oregon placed 13th, at 28.6 suits. To be fair, not every lawsuit filed proves malpractice. On the other hand, many instances of medical malpractice are never pursued.
Why the Difference Among States?
Unfortunately, this question is virtually impossible to answer at this time. Medical malpractice laws vary state by state, across the country. This certainly has an effect. Similarly, the opinions, beliefs, and actions of victims, medical practitioners, and politicians all play a role, and these factors vary throughout the nation. Assessing the effect of these legal and cultural differences is difficult. The number of doctors in a state, the degree to which victims are aware of their rights, political and cultural beliefs surrounding litigation, and other factors can all affect these results. Hopefully, research will provide a better answer in the future.
Call for a Free Consultation
Many believe that medical malpractice is vastly underreported. If you have questions about whether or not you have been a victim of medical malpractice, please contact us with your questions. We can use our vast experience to help answer your questions and to help you conduct a careful investigation. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we believe that holding all professionals responsible for negligent behavior protects all of society.