The next time someone complains about escalating malpractice premiums driving doctors out of business, following is some pertinent information. This argument is often used by Big Insurance and its front organizations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to promote unneeded “tort reform” legislation. In truth, premiums are falling and the number of U.S. doctors continues to rise.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently published updated statistics on professional liability premium rates and related measures of the costs associated with medical malpractice litigation. Direct losses dropped from a high of $8,459,389,539 in 2003 to $3,655,161,296 in 2011. Without factoring in inflation, that represents a drop of a whopping 56.8% in 8 years. In addition, premiums have decreased five years in a row, from $12,167,900,762 in 2006 to $10,296,112,512 in 2011. Thus, malpractice insurance premiums are not “skyrocketing” as industry pawns claim.
You can read more here: http://www.naic.org/documents/research_stats_medical_malpractice.pdf.
The payments reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) from 2001 through 2011, paint a similar picture. The NPDB reports payments in 2004 of $4,397,780,000 and in 2011 of $2,820,910,000, a drop of 35.8 percent. You can read more here: http://www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov/resources/npdbstats/npdbTableUS.jsp#Table2.
The NPDB statistics also show the number of payments for doctor negligence has declined ten years in a row. The numbers are:
- 2001 15,925
- 2002 14,978
- 2003 14,930
- 2004 14,304
- 2005 13,396
- 2006 11,677
- 2007 11,010
- 2008 10,533
- 2009 10,440
- 2010 9,458
- 2011 8,450
The number of payments in 2011 represents a reduction of 47 percent from the number of payments in 2001.
This data shows that only a fraction of the approximately 1,503,323 people who die or are injured annually as a result of a medical error