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Malpractice settlement costs and apology laws

Medical malpractice suits across the country cost hospitals millions of dollars a year, and in Illinois, Crain’s Chicago Business reports that two public hospital systems alone have racked up over $160 million in settlement costs since 2012. The two Chicago hospital systems in question are University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System and Cook County Health and Hospitals System, and over the past four years, each have paid out at least $80 million for medical negligence settlements.

Medical mistakes due to poor hospital protocol or simply human error can cause avoidable injuries resulting in permanent disability or even death. While hospitals work to eliminate the issues that lead to negligent mistakes that harm patients, these settlements can reach into millions of dollars. Not only are families left devastated by the impact these errors have on their loved ones, but these drive up the overall costs of medical care, which is already a huge expense for American families.

Due to these cases raising medical costs, lawmakers have been attempting to find ways to reduce the number of cases brought against hospitals. However, according to the Madison-St. Clair Record, one study has shown that the cost of these settlements have not been reduced in states that have apology laws, or laws that allow doctors to give condolences to a patient or family without being penalized. In fact, the study found that in states with these laws on the books, patients and their families were even more likely to file suits. Illinois adopted a similar law in 2005, but did not renew the law after 2010, allowing for the possibility of liability.

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