Misleading Medical Malpractice Articles Cause Confusion

Oct 24, 2022


Misleading Articles Cause Confusion About Medical Malpractice Cases

Articles about medical malpractice abound these days, especially during election season when health care costs are a hot topic. Beware, however, as many of them are written from a subjective point of view designed to ‘convince’ you that medical malpractice cases are frivolous. One opinion piece that appeared recently in the Washington Examiner is a perfect example. The author, an attorney who represents large insurance companies, would have you think that nearly all medical malpractice cases are without merit and increase health care costs for everyone. He omits or misrepresents several key facts though.

Health care costs are rising; however, medical malpractice litigation has nothing to do with it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, medical malpractice amounted to less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. The Government Accountability Office also found that malpractice cases have not widely affected access to health care. (Source: Georgia Trial Lawyers’ Association)

Doctors, and even hospitals in some cases, are to blame for malpractice lawsuits not the patients. In New Hampshire for example, a hospital continued working with Dr. Yvon Baribeau who had 21 medical malpractice complaints against him, including 14 in which he was alleged to have contributed to a patient’s death. That’s the worst record in the nation in the past two decades. Yet data posted publicly by the New Hampshire Board of Medicine never reflected that. A Boston Globe investigation found a pattern of Baribeau’s colleagues speaking out, both to Catholic Medical Center (CMC) administration and the Catholic church about their concerns, but little action was taken to discipline him. CMC routinely used Baribeau’s image on advertisements and touted his skills.

While it may be true that some law firms take frivolous cases, most have neither the time nor the resources to do so. It takes a significant amount of time and money to file medical malpractice cases. The vast majority of these cases, and all of our cases, are on a Contingency Fee basis (more about Contingency Fees in our next post.) That means ALL of the trial related expenses are paid by the law firm and not the client. In some cases, this can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. No respectable attorney would absorb those costs without having significant reason to believe the case will succeed. At Warshauer Woodward Atkins, we perform thorough research on every case prior to agreeing to take it on. That even includes having our inhouse doctor speak with the potential client, review medical records, and consult with expert witnesses about the merits of the case.

While we encourage you to read and educate yourself about medical malpractice (we have a great resource center for that,) please do so with the understanding that some of the material you read may be misleading and quite subjective. It is best to use reliable sources like the American Association for Justice and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. You may also call us at +1 (404) 334-3626 to discuss your case.