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Medical Mistakes Claim Lives in Tennessee

January 10, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Thousands of people are administered the wrong treatments every day by medical professionals, causing an estimated 180,000 deaths each year, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Nashville attorney Randall Kinnard says moves to limit liability for medical malpractice cases may, on the surface, appear to be money-saving ideas, but he believes patients and families harmed or killed by carelessness or inattention must be able to find justice.

"If you limit someone's responsibility and accountability, you're going to drive up the number of mistakes by medical care professionals. That's just human nature."

Kinnard says few drivers set out to cause car accidents, but being involved doesn't lessen the liability of the person who caused the wreck. In the same way, he says, medical professionals shouldn't get a pass.

"It's the negligence, regardless of the state of mind of the person who was careless, that counts. So, we're all subject to the same rules, and there shouldn't be some kind of special rule for medical care providers because they made a, quote, 'honest' mistake."

The latest report from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance says that in 2008 more than 3100 medical malpractice claims were closed in the state, and more than 5000 were still pending.

Critics of the system say not all the claims are justified, and that frivolous malpractice suits clog the courts, costing insurance companies millions that could be better spent on reimbursing for care.

The HHS report is at www.nejm.org.

The Tennessee Commerce Dept. report is at tennessee.gov


Randy O'Brien, Public News Service - TN