Healthcare Resources

Center for Justice & Democracy:
The New Patient Compensation System–Government Harming Patients

Detailed critique of a new proposal that would do away with judges and juries in medical malpractice cases, replaced by a new, centralized government agency called the Patient Compensation System. Political appointees and government bureaucrats representing the powerful medical and business establishments would make all liability and compensation decisions.

Center for Justice & Democracy: Briefing Book: Medical Malpractice By the Numbers
All the latest statistics about medical malpractice litigation, cost, access to doctors, insurance, and patient safety.

Society of Actuaries Study Finds Medical Errors Annually Cost at Least $19.5 Billion Nationwide.  "Findings from a new study released today estimate that measurable medical errors cost the U.S. economy $19.5 billion  in 2008. Commissioned by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and completed by consultants with Milliman, Inc., the report used claims data to provide an actuarially sound measurement of costs for avoidable medical injuries. Of the approximately $80 billion in costs associated with medical injuries, around 25 percent were the result of avoidable medical errors."  Access release or Full report.

Rand: Is Better Patient Safety Associated with Less Malpractice Activity? Evidence from California, Michael D. Greenberg • Amelia M. Haviland • J. Scott Ashwood • Regan Main, April 2010.  Our results showed a highly significant correlation between the frequency of adverse events and malpractice claims: On average, a county that shows a decrease of 10 adverse events in a given year would also see a decrease of 3.7 malpractice claims. Likewise, a county that shows an increase of 10 adverse events in a given year would also see, on average, an increase of 3.7 malpractice claims. Learn more. Access Summary or Full Report.

New Public Citizen Releases Annual Ranking of State Medical Boards, April 2010: Public Citizen’s annual ranking of state medical boards shows that most states, including one of the largest, are not living up to their obligations to protect patients from doctors who are practicing substandard medicine.  Read Release or Access Report.

HealthGrades Study: 7th Annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals, March 2010
Nearly one million patient-safety incidents occurred among Medicare patients over the years 2006, 2007, 2008, a figure virtually unchanged since last year’s annual study of patient safety by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization. In all, the incidents were associated with $8.9 billion in costs. One in ten patients -- 99,180 individuals -- experiencing a patient-safety incident died as a result, the study found.  Access the Release, Full Report or Methodology.

Federation of State Medical Boards: 2009 Summary of Board Actions Report released April 2010, a compilation of disciplinary actions taken by the nation’s 70 state medical boards during 2009. Medical boards took a total of 5,721 actions against physicians in 2009, an increase of 342 actions over 2008.  Access Report.   

Produce Safety Project, March 2010:  Foodborne Illness Costs Nation $152 Billion Annually -Nearly $39 Billion Loss Attributed to Produce.  Acute foodborne illnesses cost the United States an estimated $152 billion per year in healthcare, workplace and other economic losses, according to a report published by the Produce Safety Project (PSP). The study, Health-Related Costs from Foodborne Illness in the United States, was written by Dr. Robert L. Scharff, a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) economist and current Ohio State University assistant professor in the department of consumer sciences. The study estimates that more than a quarter of these costs, an estimated $39 billion, are attributable to foodborne illnesses associated with fresh, canned and processed produce. Access the Release, Summary or Full ReportAccess interactive map.

RWJF Report: America’s Middle Class Shouldering the Brunt of Health Insurance Crisis. A state-specific analysis—Barely Hanging On: Middle-Class and Uninsured. TEXAS FINDINGS: The number of middle-class Texans without health insurance increased 41 percent between 2000 and 2008. March 2010.  Access full report.

RWJF: New Study Shows Sepsis and Pneumonia Caused by Hospital-Acquired Infections Kill 48,000 Patients; Cost $8.1 Billion to Treat:  "Two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006 alone, according to a study released today in the Archives of Internal Medicine." Feb. 2010 Learn more.
Healthcare for America Now: Health Insurers Break Profit Records as 2.7 Million Americans Lose Coverage, Feb 2010. "The five largest U.S. health insurance companies sailed through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression to set new industry profit records in 2009, a feat accomplished by leaving behind 2.7 million Americans who had been in private health plans. For customers who kept their benefits, the insurers raised rates and cost- sharing, and cut the share of premiums spent on medical care.  Executives and shareholders of the five biggest for-profit health insurers, UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Aetna Inc., Humana Inc., and Cigna Corp., enjoyed combined profit of $12.2 billion in 2009, up 56 percent from the previous year. It was the best year ever for Big Insurance."  Full Report
Health Affairs: Patient Safety at Ten, Unmistakable Progress, Troubling Gaps By Robert M. Wachter, Health Affairs 29, NO. 1 (2010): "December 1, 2009, marks the tenth anniversary of the Institute of Medicine report on medical errors, To Err Is Human, which arguably launched the modern patient-safety movement. Over the past decade, a variety of pressures (such as more robust accreditation standards and increasing error-reporting requirements) have created a stronger business case for hospitals to focus on patient safety. Relatively few health care systems have fully implemented information technology, and we are finally grappling with balancing “no blame” and accountability. The research pipeline is maturing, but funding remains inadequate. Our limited ability to measure progress in safety is a substantial impediment. Overall, I give our safety efforts a grade of B−, a modest improvement since 2004."  (10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0785, HEALTH AFFAIRS 29,NO. 1 (2010)  Read full report.

GAO: Nursing Homes - Addressing the Factors Underlying Understatement of Serious Care Problems Requires Sustained CMS and State Commitment GAO-10-70 November 24, 2009, Learn more.

Robert Wood Johnson FoundationCharting the Course: Preparing for the Future, Learning from the Past.  "The 2009 State of the States reviews the full range of state activity on health reform during 2008 while also looking to the future, particularly in light of the expected impact of the economic downturn and the possibility of federal action." Download full report (pdf).

Talking Points: Texas Healthcare & the Insurance Debate 2009. "The same special interests that drive so-called "tort reform" are trying to divert attention from the real issues in the health insurance reform debate with their tired and misleading rhetoric on tort issues.  The Talking Points counter the false claim that the changes to Texas tort law, especially in medical malpractice, should be seen as a successful example of reforming and increasing access to healthcare." Updated 10-21-09  Access here.

ACEP 2009 States Emergency Care Report Card by the Amercian College of Emergency Physicians. 2009 Report Card2006 Report Card.

Center for Public Policy Priorities:  Texas Healthcare Facts June 2009 (includes charts)

  • "Texas has the highest percentage of people without health insurance in the nation. As of 2007, 5.96 million Texans, or a quarter of our state’s population, lacked health insurance."
  • "Texans are far less likely—by nearly 10 percentage points—to be covered by health insurance through their jobs than workers in the rest of the U.S." Full Report. 

Worst Nursing Homes List -  The list, released by the US Dept of Health & Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, contains the names and locations of "special focus facilities", a designation used for nursing home facilities that required additional oversight.  View List.

Health Grades Report: Patient Safety in American Hospitals 2007, "In this report, HealthGrades identifies the patient safety incident rates for nearly every hospital in the country using the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicator methodology1 to analyze three years of Medicare data (2003-2005). In addition to this analysis, HealthGrades creates a composite score of the results of the Patient Safety Indicators and identifies the best-performing hospitals to establish a best-practice benchmark against which other hospitals can be evaluated. See Appendix A for list of the best-performing hospitals. This study also identifies trends in important patient safety issues among the nation’s hospitals."  Full Report.

Health AffairsMeasuring The Health Of Nations: Updating An Earlier Analysis: In a comparison of 18 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranked at the bottom of the number of deaths that could have been prevented by timely and effective health care.  Ellen Nolte and Martin Mckee, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, report their findings in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Health Affairs. (subscription required to download full article) Access Abstract.

2007 CDC Press Release: MRSA Related Deaths.  "Methicillin–resistant staph aureus (MRSA) caused more than 94,000 life–threatening infections and nearly 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, most of them associated with health care settings, according to the most thorough study of life–threatening infections caused by these bacteria, experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report."  Learn more.