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Surgical complications not affected by tough malpractice laws

New York residents who are receiving medical care should be informed about the findings of a recent medical study. The report indicates that aggressively pursuing malpractice cases does not protect patients from surgical complications.

Advocates of medical malpractice legislation that makes it easier to file a lawsuit against doctors assert that the laws are necessary for better care. However, according to the study, the risk of litigation did not correlate with better medical outcomes. Instead, a malpractice environment tends to cause doctors to engage in defensive medicine in which excessive treatments and tests are ordered in the attempt to reduce malpractice risk.

The data examined for the study included state-based information regarding the average award size for malpractice suits, medical malpractice insurance premiums and the amount of claims for every 100 physicians per state as of 2010. Additional 2010 data included the probability of complications, death or repeat operations that occurred within 30 days of surgery for patients who were under the fee-for-service Medicare.

Also included in the study was data for 890,000 Medicare recipients who received care at approximately 3,200 hospitals in the country. Half of the patients whose data was examined were at least 74 years old.

The study results demonstrate that neither the threat of liability nor policy reforms to reduce liability encourage doctors to get better outcomes for their patients. According to a law and medicine professor not associated with the study, the reason researchers failed to find a consistent link between surgical difficulties and malpractice environment is that the associations are specific to particular medical fields or procedures.

A personal injury attorney should be consulted if an individual has been harmed by acts of medical malpractice such as surgical errors or a misdiagnosis. A lawyer may file a lawsuit to obtain a financial settlement for his or her client.

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