A Look at the Latest Ohio Medical Malpractice Statistics

May 23, 2014

Last month, the Ohio Department of Insurance released the Ohio 2012 Medical Professional Liability Closed Claim Report, a statistical breakdown of Ohio medical professional liability claims that were closed in 2012.  Unfortunately, the 2012 medical malpractice statistics show the continuing decline of medical malpractice claims in the wake of tort reform.   While other states are taking action to protect victims of malpractice—for example, the Supreme Court of Florida recently ruled that arbitrary damage caps in medical malpractice cases are unconstitutional—Ohio law still leaves many injured victims without recourse following medical or surgical malpractice.

But the Report was not as discouraging as some would have us believe.  Specifically, the Columbus Dispatch and the Associated Press ran stories stating that approximately four out of five claims resulted in no malpractice payment.  Although this statement is true, a bit of context shows that the prospects for medical malpractice victims are not nearly so bleak.

For purposes of the Report and gathering medical malpractice statistics, if a medical malpractice victim sues two doctors for injuries arising out of the same incident, there is not one but two claims.  Why does this matter?  If tort reform advocates would allow a more reasonable statute of limitations period, plaintiffs’ attorneys could conduct more thorough investigations of malpractice claims prior to seeking compensation and thereby focus their legal actions on only those doctors responsible for victims’ injuries.  But, unfortunately, tort reform has made this method impossible.  Because of the brief and binding statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions in Ohio, medical malpractice lawyers often must sue multiple doctors, medical professionals, and facilities so as to preserve a victims’ right to obtain compensation, and then later dismiss the innocent parties after more investigation can be done.

In other words, a large portion of the Report’s “four out of five” claims that do not result in a malpractice recovery are claims made only out of necessity because of the aforementioned problems caused by tort reform.  They are claims that are voluntarily closed because, after investigation, the plaintiffs’ attorneys are able to zero in on the negligent and liable party.  As defined by the Report these “claims” may be closed without recovery for medical malpractice, but that does not mean that the particular incident of medical or surgical malpractice did not result in a plaintiff receiving compensation.

While tort reform may have an effect on whether an attorney takes your medical malpractice case, the success rate of cases actually pursued is much greater than the 20% reported.  If you have been injured as the result of medical or surgical malpractice, do not be discouraged by the seemingly negative reports.  Contact the Cleveland medical malpractice lawyers at Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA for a free telephone consultation.

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