Wednesday, March 05, 2003

From Gannett News Service: "Despite industry fuss, malpractice crisis doesn't exist." It says: "A Gannett News Service examination of court records and state and national insurance data found no significant increase in malpractice cases in recent years, few jury awards to speak of, and only modest growth in payments made to settle cases with patients. That's true across Florida and throughout [the] nation, records show. " Consider:
* The number of malpractice claims filed per capita in Florida has decreased significantly, and somewhat steadily, since 1995, state insurance records show. Floridians today file malpractice cases at their lowest rate since 1984.

* Jury awards against doctors are rare, state data shows. In 2002, juries accounted for 27 out of 1,308 claims paid by malpractice insurance companies. That's about 2 percent.

* In Brevard County, patients have filed 764 malpractice lawsuits against doctors in the past six years, local court records show. Of those, seven have gone to trial. And of those, just one resulted in a jury verdict for the injured patient.

* A review a insurance data for the same period revealed another two jury awards in Brevard, from cases filed before 1997. Jury verdicts accounted for 1 percent of the 190 malpractice insurance payouts in Brevard in the past six years.

* Adjusted for inflation, the average jury award in Florida - which supposedly drives insurance companies to agree to high settlement amounts - has dropped every year since 1999 to $326,070.

* Total payouts by malpractice insurers statewide have dropped an average of 2 percent a year every year since 1997.

1 plaintiff's verdict out of 764 lawsuits. What crisis?

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