Debunking common medical malpractice myths

By: Darrell Castle

There are a lot of myths out there about medical malpractice, and they come from both sides of the issue.

For example, a lot of doctors and insurance companies complain the only reason health care costs are so high is because malpractice lawsuits make it expensive. They claim they have to perform a ton of extra tests to cover their bases so they won’t get sued, which makes the system more pricey and inefficient for everyone.

As a result, some lawmakers have tried to cap the liability doctors and hospitals could have to pay for medical malpractice.

In 2011, Tennessee set caps at $750,000 on non-economic damages like pain and emotional suffering and $500,000 cap on punitive damages. Lawmakers also capped catastrophic cases at $1 million. Those cases include extreme injuries with lifelong consequences, including paralysis, blindness, amputation, or death – even if the victim had minor children.

They argued that making these changes would significantly help bring down health care costs. But have your premiums gone down? Have you recently left the doctor thrilled with how inexpensive your visit was?

According to a Harvard study, medical malpractice amounts to 2.4% of America’s health care costs. It’s not insignificant, but it’s also nowhere near enough to solve the health care crisis.

Both sides of the argument need to temper their reactions. Otherwise all the public gets are myths about medical malpractice, rather than the truth.

The truth is that medical malpractice is a very serious charge that should never be done trivially. It can cause a lot of pain and frustration for the doctors and hospitals involved, and should only be used as a last resort.

But at the same time, sometimes it really is the last resort. And when a mother of 3 young children is permanently paralyzed, with medical bills for the rest of her life compounding into millions of dollars, what price tag would you put on the future she could have had? Is justice for this woman and her family really something we should cap?

As a Memphis medical malpractice attorney, I want my clients and potential clients to understand the truth about this complicated and sensitive area of law. This week I’ll be posting a series on medical malpractice myths and answering common medical malpractice questions. You can find the posts on this blog in the coming days.

In addition, if you have any questions about medical malpractice in Tennessee, or if you’d like to speak with an attorney about an injury you think might be medical malpractice, contact me today at (901) 327-1212 or via this site.