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Texas is among states with lowest per capita malpractice payouts

Readers in Houston, Texas, might be interested to know about a recent analysis performed by Diederich Healthcare. According to its research, only five states represent 48 percent of all payouts for medical malpractice lawsuits in 2012. Texas was not among those states, and in fact, was among the group with the lowest payouts.

Most of the payouts in 2012 came from settlements, 93 percent to be exact. Only five percent came from judgments. The malpractice allegations were primarily related to diagnosis, surgery, treatment and obstetrics. Malpractice allegations related to diagnosis resulted in more than $1 billion in payments. Twenty percent of those payments involved a failure to diagnose.

The analysis also found that women were more likely to receive payouts than men. Last year, 57 percent the malpractice payouts went to women, while only 43 percent went to men. As for age, at 39 percent, those who were aged 40 to 59 years had the highest number of payouts. The difference between inpatient malpractice payouts and out patient payouts was not as great. Inpatients received 45 percent, while outpatients received 41 percent.

As for the type of injury caused by malpractice, 31 percent of the payouts were awarded in malpractice cases that involved the death of a patient. 19 percent involved significant permanent injury and 18 percent involved major permanent injury. Insignificant injury received the least amount at four percent of all payouts.

The total amount of malpractice payments continues to drop. The number had been increasing from 1998 to 2001, but ever since 2003 the value of malpractice awards has be steadily dropping. In 2012, payouts were 3.4 percent lower than the year before.

While there may be multiple reasons for why the numbers are dropping, one thing remains true: patients who are injured by a negligent physician have the right to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover for the damages they suffered - and no one should be discouraged from doing so. A medical malpractice lawsuit represents an opportunity to receive full compensation for any losses related to an unfortunate medical mistake that can lead to extensive medical bills, missed work and pain and suffering. While money may not reverse what was done, it can help patients and their families in these trying times.

Source: The Clinical Advisor, "2012 malpractice payouts concentrated in 5 states," Ann W. Latner, JD, May 14, 2013

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