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Pennsylvania medical malpractice claims - who pays and when?

Medical malpractice claims can be costly for both patients and physicians in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, so says a letter published by a leading medical journal. The letter summarized the costs to medical professionals by specialty for defending medical malpractice claims. The highest costs were associated with claims against doctors treating cancer and cardiology patients.

Expressing concerns that the heightened costs of defending medical malpractice claims were being passed on to patients in the form of higher medical fees, officials have proposed varying solutions to the problem. One state university hospital system initiated a program where a patient who has been injured is sought out soon after a potential malpractice incident in an attempt to both acknowledge a mistake and to seek to settle with the wronged party. It is thought that the proactive approach both reduces costs and averts lengthy medical malpractice litigation.

However, injuries from acts of medical malpractice can be quite severe for patients in Pennsylvania and everywhere else. According to reports, the injuries suffered can range from a missed diagnosis that delays treatment, to the death of a patient. Under the current medical malpractice system in place across much of the country, it can often take months or even years for a patient to be compensated for the injuries suffered as a result of a doctor's mistake or negligence.

Medical malpractice claims have become a part of the debate over the cost of healthcare. Some argue that the costs are prime reasons for the high expense for medical treatment. However, those who have been hurt due to the negligence of a medical professional must sometimes confront life-altering circumstances, and there are many who argue these seriously injured patients deserve their day in court to prove both the negligence that occurred and the damages that resulted.

Source: philly.com, "Doctors Detail High Costs of Fighting Malpractice Claims," Mary Brophy Marcus, April 5, 2012

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