AMA Lawsuit Report: Paramedic Heretic’s Response

CHEST XRAY SCISSORS

The American Medical Association released a report surveying over 5,000 doctors. The result: An average of 95 medical malpractice claims were filed for every 100 physicians. Just under 50% were sued at some point in their careers. 20% of them were sued two or more times. And the specialty, of course,  determined the career suit-rate:

Family practice: 80 claims for every 100 physicians
Internal medicine: 58 claims per 100 physicians
General surgery: 213 claims per 100 physicians
Surgical subspecialties: 170 claims per 100 physicians
Ob/Gyn: 215 claims per 100 physicians
Radiology: 116 claims per 100 physicians
ER Medicine: 109 claims per 100 physicians

Of those age 55 or older, 60% have been sued
Of those age 40-54, 45% have been sued

The longer you practice, the more likely you will be sued at least once in your career.

_____________

Our Response to the AMA:

So according to your study, practice long enough and you will likely get sued by somebody. Okay. But that fact also applies to plumbers and auto mechanics, Paramedics and nurses, Pollyannas and Pop Tarts.

Using the same data from the Physician Insurers Association of America that you did, underscores this little pickle: In fewer than 30% of the cases was any money paid out. Put another way, no money is paid out 70% of the time. The fact is, many may be sued, but your own study points out that thousands of patients who may deserve a timely settlement – don’t receive anything at all.

As my Indiana farmer dad used to say, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Are you ready, AMA?

Your argument is seriously suspect in the first place, coming as it does  from a key player in the business of medicine, with a major stake in the volume you purport to be true.

In the second place, the mitigating circumstances for physician lawsuits are statistically off the chart, and you know it. They are profoundly important to the wellbeing of society as a whole; they are pathetically under-reported by healthcare. And a few of those factors are these:

1. 400+ citizens die while being medically treated, every day of the year. Your study, for some odd reason, did not mention this, did it?

2. The Nat’l Practitioner Data Bank holds files on 250,000 physicians, considered “Dangerous” or “Questionable.” From murder to child molestation, from rape to drug-running to insurance theft – almost exactly 50 doctors are found guilty of egregious misbehavior each week. No other profession in society generates as much crime.

The surprise ought not be that MDs get sued. The shocker is why this bunch of lab coat hooligans hasn’t already been sued into non-existence.

3. It is doctors – and no one else in society – who gleefully overprescribe the mind-numbing volume of drugs to the masses, at an ever-increasing rate. Does it concern you at all that fully 30% of all Girl Scouts at summer camp are on prescription drugs? On what planet ought that make sense?

4. The watchdog group Public Citizen reports that ‘Med Mal’ lawsuits are, in fact, few & far between. Fewer than 10% of all patients harmed by medical treatment ever bring suit at all. That means 9 out of every 10 incidents that could be litigated – aren’t. And your people feel picked on?

In those cases that are brought to trial, far more than half are won by the physician – for any number of reasons. Contrary to popular belief, juries tend to side with the medical care provider, unless the injury is practically undisputed. And anyone who thinks it’s a piece of cake to convince an attorney to take on a Med Mal case, well, they just aren’t paying attention.

5. Because of the ‘monster’ million-dollar suits that DO make the headlines, Americans typically suppose these victims are raking in tons of money on zillions of kooky cases. But factually, very, very few patient victories result in much at all.

We are by no means proud of the fact that we live in a country considered “lawsuit crazy” by the rest of the world. But we can say with some authority that American medical practitioners have brought this plague upon themselves, by simply not taking out the trash when it gets a little . . . stinky.

Your turn, AMA. Tell the world where we’re going wrong. 144,000 daily followers are anxious to hear why so many physicians get themselves sued.

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6 thoughts on “AMA Lawsuit Report: Paramedic Heretic’s Response

  1. Donna says:

    Friends and family members encouraged me to sue my surgeon/hospital after a 2004 procedure that left me in various stages of pain for 9 years. In 2014, after many tests a new surgeon found an infected suture in my lower abdominal area that had been left behind in 2004. At first the most recent tests were leading towards a possible mesh infection. But upon surgery, the suture was found as the culprit buried under massive amounts of scar tissue. A lawyer told me I could have probably filed a class action suit if the mesh had been the problem. But the outcome would be both very time consuming and a small reward. A bill was on the ballot last year to increase the limit for such rewards to more than $250,000 per case. It did not pass. And as you stated, “very few patient victories result in much at all”. Plus a case could be sitting in the courts for 2-4 years. The lawyer didn’t turn me down but gave me reason to be happy the infection didn’t kill me. He was very disgusted with the laws, the limit and the situation. I settled for empathy and share with all other patients!

    • Donna – Thank you so much for sharing this poignant story. It hurts my heart that you went through this absolutely avoidable nightmare.

      Since my very first weeks in EMS – well before medical school – I started hearing these kinds of stories, as my partners and I would treat and transport patients, generally for other reasons. Countless hundreds of stories after stories, from folks who were simply blindsided by the underside of “healthcare.”

      So in 1977 I began writing them down on slips of paper and tucking them away. I had no idea why I wrote them down; certainly had no plan to organize them or publish them. I merely had a vague notion that they were too important to forget.

      One evening a group of medics and I were sitting in a pizza place, chatting about our collective experiences with daffy doctors. Most folks have no idea that when the doo-doo hits the fan in a doctor’s office – when a patient collapses for one reason or another – the clinic calls 911, just like everybody else. And that night we all had stories to tell.

      We did not know the couple sitting nearby could hear every word, and happened to be Bevery Hills literary agents. When they got up to leave, the elderly woman leaned over and handed me a business card and said, “You really should write a book.”

      Her name was Dorris Halsey of the Reece-Halsey Agency – one of the most respected in the world. And Ms. Halsey very much believed in this subject. I learned much later that she had been tortured as a young girl by Nazi doctors.

      The world is a better place because Dorris Halsey – and Donna Sinclair – survived horrors they didn’t deserve.

      God bless you.

  2. Carolyn says:

    We had doctors with an HMO tell us our severely autistic daughter did not have an AVM brain clot when she did! We disenrolled her and got her brain surgery at a very reputable hospital. The doctors there told us it would’ve eventually killed her. I’ve complained everywhere I possibly can and it’s been very hard to get people to listen to me. These doctors are still working with and lying to the Medi-Cal HMOs patients! One of the doctors is involved in a spinal implant scandal. He’s being sued for lying to a patient about a brain tumor. The state is very sluggish and I’ve had to be very aggressive. I looked into suing but with the statuatory cap most attorneys won’t do it. Greatfully our daughter has recovered and is doing quite well.

  3. Donna says:

    I am so glad she is okay!

    • Carolyn says:

      Thanks, it was horrible and she lost 30lbs in a month. The state does a terrible job overseeing doctors in Calif and I’m glad we removed the involved MDs. They are scum.

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