According to the consumer group, Public Citizen, medical malpractice payments seem to be trending downward, although medical errors continue to be a major problem.
However, the American Medical Association questioned the validity of the report released by Public Citizen. American Medical Association has been a longtime critic of the consumer group and its methods.
The consumer group noted a small increase in malpractice payments, the first in a decade. The overall decline in the volume and value of such claims over the last 15 years is troubling because Public Citizen was unable to find signs that the actual incidence of medical errors I falling.
The group asserts that the actual crisis over avoidable medical errors is worse than they believed.
Public Citizen attributed the drop in payments to medical practitioners who since the early 2000s have been advocating for caps on damages.
3/5 of all payments in 2013 were associated with negligence that led to significant permanent injury, major permanent injury, quadriplegia, brain damage, the need for lifelong care, or death.
Although from 2012 to 2013 the number of malpractice payments grew from 9,370 to 9,677. These figures pale in comparison to the 16,565 payments reported in 2001.
The group ascertained their conclusion after an analysis of data from the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank.
Public Citizen noted in the report that the percentage of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of hospitals, instead of physicians was not included in the National Practitioner Data Bank.
According to the analysis, the value of payments rose from $3.1 billion in 2012 to $3.3 billion in 2013. However, this 3.7% increase is negated when the figures are converted to actual and inflation-adjusted dollars. In 1991 the total value of medical malpractice payments on behalf of doctors in inflation-adjusted dollars was $3.6 billion and in 2001 it was $5.8 billion.
The American Medical Association claims that any study using data from the National Practitioner Date Bank was inherently flawed. According to a spokesperson, even the Government Accountability Office has determined that the National Practitioner Data Bank is riddled with duplicate entries, inaccurate data, and incomplete and inappropriate information.