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Connecticut ranks high in medical liability payments

In a recent study of the states with the highest average medical liability payments in surgical malpractice claims, Connecticut ranked near the top, with the second-highest average settlement amounts and jury awards out of all 50 U.S. states. The only state to place higher on the list was Illinois.

In the medical malpractice study, researchers examined medical liability payments made for surgical errors from 1990 to 2006. At a national level, the average payment was $262,727. Over the course of the study, the average individual payment increased by $3,200 every year, while the number of surgical malpractice claims filed annually fell by more than 150 each year.

Interestingly, the researchers did not measure the average payment amounts in each state, but looked instead at the likelihood that high payments would be made. They found that Connecticut was the second-most likely to make medical liability payments of more than $1 million, compared to similar malpractice cases in other states.

Overall, there was a wide disparity in payment amounts among the states, researchers found. The primary reason for this is the states' differing medical damages caps and similar tort reform laws that are in place. Connecticut does not have a damages cap or any related laws.

In addition, researchers found that the patient outcomes were one of the strongest predictors of the payment amount. Patients who were paralyzed as the result of a surgical error received about $800,000 more than patients with less permanent injuries. Interestingly, cases in which a patient died only garnered about $200,000 more than cases alleging more minor injuries.

Source: American Medical News, "Medical liability payouts for surgeries vary widely by state," Alicia Gallegos, Oct. 29, 2012

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