Iowa’s 1st District Democratic Congressman Bruce L. Braley drafted an eloquent letter to the Honorable Patrick Leahy, urging the Senator to prioritize patient safety and ensure that any medical malpractice reform in the budget discussion is focused on the most effective way to reduce medical malpractice cases in America: by reducing medical errors! Representative Braley pointed out that the most significant way to reduce the overall costs of medical malpractice is to emphasize patient safety. As we just blogged about on Monday, the WHO reported that out of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, seven individuals in developed countries and ten in developing countries will acquire at least one health-care associated infection. Costs associated with medical negligence claims here in the United States account for only 1.36% of all spending for health care in 207, yet by reducing the number of preventable medical errors, we can realize a major impact on public health and cost. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports that every single year, preventable medical errors cause the wrongful deaths of as many as 98,000 Americans.
Even more overwhelming, Representative Braley pointed out, is the number of Americans injured each year by preventable errors, which is estimated at 15 million incidents of medical harm yearly. As each Chicago personal injury lawyer in our firm is well aware and as Representative Braley pointed out in his timely letter, misguided efforts at medical malpractice lawsuit tort reform have not proven to reduce costs to taxpayers, which is clearly the focus of ongoing discussions to reduce the deficit. Under the Medicare Secondary Payer program, whenever a Medicare patient recovers in a medical malpractice action, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reimbursed for all of the money that was spent on the patient’s healthcare. As such, the MSP program actually generates revenue to keep the Medicare Trust Fund solvent!
Our Chicago personal injury attorneys applaud Representative Braley for bringing up these important issues during the debt discussions when our elected officials appear to often lose sight of the true problems. We encourage other public servants to do the same!