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Medical negligence is more common than legal records reflect

According to an article on JAMA Internal Medicine titled "Measuring Diagnostic Errors in PRimary Care," only about 1 percent of adverse medical events actually result in claims for medical malpractice. However, those lobbying on behalf of hospitals and health care organizations in New York have managed to get Lavern's Law killed in the Senate, albeit with John J. Flanagan, the majority leader, not allowing a vote on the bill.

While Lavern's Law doesn't directly affect Connecticut medical malpractice cases, it does show how lobbying can have a profound effect on certain bills. Lavern's Law would have allowed malpractice lawsuits to be brought 2.5 years from the date the medical errors should have been or were discovered.

According to the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences in 1999, at least 44,000 patients died from medical errors. A study published in HealthAffairs in 2011 estimated that the number was probably 10 times higher than that.

The average award for malpractice cases heard by juries according to the Department of Justice is $400,000. For bench trials, it is $631,000. When multi-million dollar awards are given out, it's usually because this is the only way that some measure of what was lost was recouped.

New York requires that six malpractice settlements or judgements are needed against a physician before state medical licensing agencies begin a review. Reducing this number or even cutting it in half can help keep physicians who are repeatedly negligent out of hospitals.

If you have been injured because of medical negligence, don't wait to seek legal advice. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and how to proceed.

Source: The New York Times, "When Bad Doctors Happen to Good Patients," Thomas Moore and Steve Cohen, Aug. 31, 2015

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