The turbulent economy is now beginning to affect the health care providers such as hospitals. Unfortunately, some of the worst hit hospitals are also the most troubled ones as well. One way New York hospitals are beginning to cut corners is by forgoing malpractice insurance. With medical malpractice insurance reaching over a million dollars per year, this may seem to make sense in the short run.
However, problems will surface in the long run. While some of the hospitals have reserves to cover New York medical malpractice claims such as settlements, payouts, and litigation expenses, many other hospitals have already burned through their reserves. Compounding the issue is that the most troubled and likely to utilize medical malpractice insurance are the ones who are forgoing coverage and without reserves.
Essentially, I believe this may mean two distinct things. First—and most obvious—the money will get taken away from client care. That is, the expenses of patient care such as staff (and training), resources, and facilities will begin to suffer. For example, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center had a $12.9 million verdict entered against them in 2006. As a result from using reserves money to pay claims, the high recovery forced the hospital to draw funds from other sources. In turn, this resulted in the obstetric unit being closed.
Second, and maybe less obvious, I think this will force some of those troubled hospitals to practice more “defensive medicine.” Defensive medicine is where the physician dots all of his “i’s” and crosses all of his “t’s” to ensure he does not commit any form of New York medical malpractice. A physician practicing defense medicine may order more tests—sometimes unnecessary—to “cover all his bases.” The problem with defensive medicine is that, whether or not there is New York medical malpractice, the normal costs associated with a patient’s care will inherently go up solely because the patient will now be receiving more—and possibly unnecessary—tests. In fact, I have written a few blog posts regarding the harms of unnecessary procedures—such as over-stenting—which is believed to cause serious complications and dangerous to patients who do not need them done.
This will only breed further New York medical malpractice claims—something no one wants to see. I really hope things turn around with the economy to help preserve our state’s hospitals. However, I certainly fear the situation we may all face if major and troubled hospitals begin to cut corners by dropping medical malpractice insurance. As a New York medical malpractice attorney, I absolutely hate the see the injuries that could have been easily prevented due to shortcuts in patient care.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.