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Debunking the myths of medical malpractice claims

Every Baltimore resident has certain prejudiced and biased views, whether he or she realizes it or not. While many think of negative prejudicial views, such as those concerning race and sex, there are other prejudicial or biased views that others may hold without first knowing all of the facts behind a situation.

For example, when it comes to medical malpractice claims, some individuals may mistakenly believe that the majority of claims brought against doctors and hospitals are frivolous and without any basis. Individuals also may believe that compensation is always awarded to these plaintiffs, regardless of the merits of the case.

Studies have shown that this assumption is simply not true. For instance, one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that most claims that were unsupported by evidence of injury to the patient did not result in compensation being awarded. Instead, these claims typically are denied compensation due to the lack of merit of the case.

However, there were only a small percentage of claims analyzed that did not involve injuries. Plaintiffs whose injuries were caused by doctor error did often receive compensation for their injuries, even if it took some time between the date of the injury and the payment.

The results of this study may be news to some, particularly for those who have biased views about medical malpractice claims and think that a significant number of claims are frivolous. However, in many ways, the study merely confirms the obvious - that most people who bring medical malpractice claims do so only after suffering injuries at the hands of a doctor and that these individuals deserve compensation for their injuries.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine, "Claims, Errors, and Compensation Payments in Medical Malpractice Litigation," David M. Studdert, et al, accessed Nov. 29, 2014

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