Jul 8, 2011

Abandoned Med-mal Lawsuits Weigh Heavy on Legal System

A report in the Boston Globe reveals that 59 percent of medical malpractice claims filed are simply abandoned, according to a new study published by the Journal of Health Affairs: Dropped Medical Malpractice Claims: Their Surprising Frequency, Apparent Causes, And Potential Remedies.

Information from the abstract of the study, authored by Dwight Golann, a professor at the School of Law, Suffolk University, in Boston, Massachusetts reads:
"Most medical malpractice claims are neither settled nor adjudicated. Instead, they are abandoned by the plaintiffs who bring them. This study measured the frequency and cost of abandoned claims and gathered opinions from attorneys and other experts on why plaintiffs drop claims. Plaintiffs in the study abandoned 58.6 percent of claims against defendants, while settling only 26.6 percent and adjudicating 14.8 percent. Claims are not dropped because a large percentage of them are frivolous, but for other reasons. The most important is that as plaintiffs acquire more information in the course of a lawsuit, they often conclude that a claim is weaker than they had first thought. The author recommends that insurers and hospitals adopt new procedures to encourage both plaintiff attorneys and defense representatives to exchange information more efficiently, discuss the merits of malpractice cases more candidly, and resolve cases quickly. Such reforms would greatly reduce both the frequency and the duration of cases that are dropped, and thus the cost of malpractice litigation."

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