It is no secret that uninsured and underinsured Americans are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to healthcare access. In fact, many believe that due to lack of access to quality medical care, diagnosis is sometimes so delayed in treatable conditions that patients suffer unnecessary severe effects, or even die. Medical malpractice litigation often follows deaths and other undesired outcomes, especially when diagnosis may have played a role. But are the uninsured more likely to file medical malpractice lawsuits, since they are more likely to delay seeking treatment?
A recent study examined the frequency of malpractice suits directed at pediatricians, and whether a connection to lack of health insurance exists.
The study, which analyzed data over a 20-year span, found that the percentage of pediatric medical malpractice claims filed by the uninsured has actually decreased over the years. In 1990, uninsured children and their families filed 20 percent of all pediatric malpractice lawsuits, while, at the end of the study (2007), they filed only 3 percent. Conversely, lawsuits filed by those on public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and S-CHIP made up 40 percent of all pediatric medical malpractice claims in 2007, growing from 18 percent in 1987 and 1990.
What it means
Although these data do not indicate a correlation between lack of insurance and likeliness to initiate pediatric malpractice litigation, they do raise an important question—is there a parallel between lack of healthcare access and lack of legal access?
Just as no child should be without adequate medical care, no one who needs legal representation should be without options. In fact, most medical malpractice attorneys only receive payment when clients win their cases.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.