The Role of Medical Malpractice Litigation in Reforming Patient Care

The Role of Medical Malpractice Litigation in Reforming Patient Care

In a recent article published by the New York Times, UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz discussed her recent survey of hospital administrators and medical malpractice litigation’s role in changing patient care standards. The survey asked more than 400 hospital risk management professionals about their response to medical errors.

The results indicated that in recent years, hospitals have become increasingly more open with patients: over 80 percent of hospitals in the study have a policy of apologizing to patients when errors occur.

The survey went on to find that medical malpractice litigation acts to decrease medical errors by creating a sense of openness and transparency in response to litigation risk. Specifically, hospitals have found that disclosing errors to patients and offering early settlements reduces the costs and frequency of litigation.

The survey went on to find that medical malpractice litigation is a source of valuable information about medical errors. Over 95% of responding hospitals used information gained from lawsuits to improve patient care.

The survey also found that lawsuits can reveal previously unknown incidents of medical errors – particularly diagnostic and treatment errors with delayed manifestations that other reporting systems are not designed to collect.

Medical malpractice claims and healthcare reform

Medical malpractice litigation is not only an important tool for reforming patient care standards, but it is also a powerful mechanism for health care reform. Medical malpractice claims can provide valuable information about the quality of medical practices and procedures in the healthcare system.

The data from these claims can be used to identify areas of poor practice and recommend strategies to improve patient safety. The analysis of medical malpractice claims can also help inform public policy decisions at the state and national level.

In addition, lawsuits can act as a deterrent for future medical errors. Hospitals are more likely to take measures to prevent errors if they are aware of potential legal consequences. This can lead to better patient care and improved patient safety outcomes across the healthcare system.

Why Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Aren’t as Rampant as You Think

While the number of medical malpractice lawsuits brought is often portrayed as shockingly high, the reality is that, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study, only 1.53% of adverse events caused by medical negligence ultimately lead to malpractice claims.

This finding, coupled with Dr. Schwartz’ conclusion that medical malpractice lawsuits do not have the harmful effects on patient safety that they are imagined to have – and, in fact, do some good, suggests that perhaps one problem with our medical malpractice system is not that there are too many lawsuits filed, but too few.The Modern Era in Health Care: Accountable Health Care Systems

Accountable health care systems prioritize patient outcomes and quality of care over quantity of services provided.

  • These systems use data and technology to track patient progress and identify areas for improvement in Medical care.
  • Providers in accountable health care systems collaborate to coordinate care and reduce unnecessary treatments and costs.
  • Patient engagement and education are emphasized to promote preventative care and healthy behaviors.


Medical malpractice litigation is an important tool for reforming patient care standards and promoting medical malpractice reforms. The data gleaned from these claims can provide an invaluable source of information about medical errors, which in turn can help hospitals improve their patient care standards and support public policy decisions.

By providing hospitals with a sense of openness and transparency, medical malpractice litigation can help hold healthcare providers accountable for their actions and ensure that patients receive the best possible care.