William Sage, MD, JD recently wrote an editorial in JAMA that malpractice claims are not currently causing disruption of the healthcare system, and the number of claims and average payout for claims is lower today than 10 years ago. Paid claims declined from 18.6 to 9.9 claims per thousand physician, and median payments declined from $218,400 to $195,000. However, statistics show that the number and frequency of medical errors has increased over the same period, with up to 400,000 negligent deaths a year from malpractice not including severely injured patients. The article goes on to discuss the need to compensate injured patients, the use of dispute resolution methods, the Medicare and Medicaid liens that impact settlement costs and the time delay in resolving claims. The article goes on to comment negatively on the significant contingency fee compensation that plaintiff attorneys receive when representing injured patients.
Parents need to guard against medication errors when treating their children at home with prescription medications. According to an article in Pediatrics, about 70,000 medication errors occur annually in children under 6 years of age, with more than 17,000 occurring in children under 1 year of age. Although most drug administration errors do not result in serious medical injuries, there are approximately 400 serious injuries and an average of 2-3 deaths each year. The most common error was inadvertently giving the medication twice.