Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli & Pratt | Attorneys At Law

Malpractice attorneys are crucial in the fight for better care

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2024 | Personal Injury |

A study from Johns Hopkins estimated that medical errors are the third-leading leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer. This nightmarish statistic could only be a reality in a medical system that is rife with abuse and has little regard for patient safety — it must be changed. Despite spending higher than any other advanced economy on healthcare, the U.S. consistently offers some of the worst quality care. Rather than work to meet a patient’s medical needs, corporate players aim only to squeeze them at every bend of our labyrinthine system; they pay to get protection from accountability.

Attorneys who dare stand up for patients and call attention to this sordid state of affairs consistently receive negative press. Insurance companies smear them as opportunistic ambulance chasers. Pundits allege that forcing doctors to focus on liability risk encourages them to leave the state. Despite this, evidence consistently demonstrates that malpractice attorneys are a crucial component of a movement to restore patient dignity.

The blind hope that our healthcare system will fix itself from within has never paid dividends. For starters, healthcare markets are notoriously difficult to regulate. Consumers lack access to both information and competition that would allow a healthcare market to operate smoothly. The U.S. healthcare system in particular suffers from consolidation of every possible angle, impeding competitive incentives to provide better care. Healthcare regulators routinely enter from and exit to cushy jobs in the companies they are tasked with holding accountable. This is why our government falls short time and time again in their duty to protect patients. Medical malpractice law is critical because it does what no one else is able or willing to do: shine a light on the excesses of an incestuous system and bring wrongdoers to justice.

Joanna Schwartz, a Professor at UCLA School of Law, details these positive externalities of medical malpractice suits in her article published in the NYU Law Review. Rather than creating a culture where doctors are incentivized to deny all wrongdoing and hide records — as critics contend malpractice suits do — Schwartz draws from extensive surveys with risk managers to show that the threat of malpractice pushes healthcare facilities to behave proactively and prevent future damage. In fact, it is facilities with slipshod or deceptive record-keeping practices that the law punishes the most severely.

The information provision function of malpractice suits also provides a crucial service to both patients, hospitals, and academics. Patients are able to more easily navigate an opaque market through the guidance of healthcare watchdog nonprofits, who can examine the rate of and records disclosed by malpractice suits at particular healthcare facilities. Hospitals benefit from learning about the systemic problems unearthed by malpractice suits — for instance, which departments have the highest rates of claims and why. Academics can study macro-level data disclosed by malpractice suits to offer solutions to entrenched issues in medicine. The American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Closed Claim project famously relied on data from malpractice suits to unveil systemic problems in the field.

Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli and Pratt is proud to follow in this honorable tradition of attorneys who fight simultaneously for their patients and bottom-up reform. We are involved in this field not just to deliver justice for individuals, but because the collective injustice of the American healthcare system is intolerable to us. We know that when we win, it is not just a victory for us or our client, but also for a better future in healthcare for all of us. People over profits!



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