Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Do Not Have Harmful Effects on Patient Safety

In a May 16, 2013 New York Times opinion page editorial, written by assistant professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, Joanna  C. Schwartz, discussed the Affordable Care Act in relation to medical malpractice lawsuits. The article was titled, “Learning from Litigation.” The thrust of the article is that new evidence contradicts the “conventional wisdom that malpractice litigation compromises the patient safety . . .”  Professor Schwartz says that the opposite appears to be occurring;  that with more openness and transparency, hospitals are responding to the risk of litigation in positive ways.

Professor Schwartz interviewed dozens of hospital risk managers who confirmed that a hospital’s approach to lawsuits has begun to change. She says that hospitals have become more open to handling medical errors up front and are apologizing to patients when mistakes do happen in some cases.

The given reason that hospitals are more open to these types of solutions is that in disclosing errors up front, hospitals and patients tend to resolve matters much earlier, reasonably and much more cost effectively. 

In addition, Professor Schwartz reached the conclusion that malpractice lawsuits make hospitals and doctors more responsible for medical errors. 

Medical malpractice lawsuits lead to greater reports of errors that may not have otherwise been reported. In the discovery process of lawsuits, safety and quality practices are also unveiled.

With the negative publicity regarding medical malpractice claims, many states have incorporated reforms on medical malpractice lawsuits including “caps” that limit the amount of money that a patient may recover because of hospital or physician errors that cause injury or death.  However, Professor Schwartz’s study found that with openness and transparency, the cap reform statutes impede sensible efforts to improve medical care, rather than to improve them.  


Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice negligence for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Naperville, Glenview, Norridge, Stickney, Bedford Park, Oak Lawn, Blue Island, Chicago (Stockyards), Chicago (West Town), Elmwood Park, Melrose Park and Elmhurst, Ill.

Related blog posts:

Jury Awards Large Payment to Brain-Damaged Woman in New York

Illinois Jury Finds for Doctor in Medical Malpractice Case in Death of a Pregnant Woman; Estate of Ariss v. Dr. Serry

Medical Malpractice Claim Survives Res Judicata Assertion; Wilson v. Edward Hospital