By just looking at the numbers, it might appear as if doctor errors are on the decline in Delaware. However, experts have cautioned that fewer medical malpractice complaints in 2020 does not necessarily translate to better or improved care. The recent drop in complaints can likely be attributed to a few different factors, including:
- Fewer elective procedures
- Fewer physicians
- A less than stellar reporting system
Malpractice complaints by the numbers
During the first nine months in 2019, the National Practitioner Data Bank received 5,225 reports of adverse reactions caused by physicians. Over the same period of time in 2020, it received only 4,393 complaints — a decline of 16%. In 2020, there were also far fewer physicians who were suspended through Sept. than in 2019 — only 641 compared with 704.
One study indicates that approximately 28 million elective procedures and surgeries were delayed in 2020. With fewer surgeries being performed, there are also fewer opportunities for things to go wrong. Another possible contributing factor is that there was a significant shortage of doctors in 2020.
The system for reporting adverse events to the National Practitioner Bank is not foolproof, either. For example, reporting requirements only apply to staff, so facilities are not required to report adverse events for physicians who have temporary privileges. It is also difficult for patients to check out physician complaints in advance, as the National Practitioner Data Bank is mostly confidential to the public.
Seeking medical care should not be a frightening experience. Sadly, it is for some people in Delaware. Victims of medical malpractice may want to consider exploring their options for seeking compensation for their related damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering and more.