In 2015, doctors and insurers in the United States paid out over $3.95 billion dollars in medical malpractice cases, an increase of 1.68% over the previous year, and a continuation of the trend toward additional payouts after nearly a decade of decline. A closer look at the data reveals that the problem may not be rooted in quality of care, but in law and culture.
An infographic from Diederich Healthcare, a division of Diederich Insurance Agency, LLC; provides a visualization that handily summarizes the 2015 medical malpractice costs data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).
Total payouts in New Jersey in 2015 were $256,297,050, a per capita cost of $28.61. This makes us the 4th worst state in the country when it comes to per capita medical liability costs. Only Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York have higher per capita payouts.
Payouts in the Northeast region (defined by Diederich as Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) actually account for 45.93% of the whole nation’s costs. New York’s payouts alone were greater than the sum of all the Midwestern states’ payouts.
This data could make you hesitate before heading to a doctor in our region, but quality of care may not be the only reason for the region’s outsize payouts. The data likely reflects the cost of living and the individual states’ tort law as much as, or even more so, than it reflects the seriousness of injuries.
Diederich also has an interesting breakdown of types of malpractice allegations, patient characteristics, and other interesting tidbits, so click over to their site to see the full infographic.