Public Life Advocate: The Tracker (March 2005)

This edition of The Tracker can be found in print publication of the Public Life Advocate at the website of the Public Life Foundation.

* Kentucky’s median malpractice payout in 2002 was only half what it was in
1995.

* The total dollar amount of malpractice payouts in Kentucky declined 4.1% from 1995 to 2002.

* In Kentucky, there were five medical malpractice payouts exceeding $1 million in 2002, compared with six payouts in 1995. The average number of payouts of $1 million or more during the past eight years has been 3.2 annually.

* According to the Kentucky Medical Association, 819 doctors left the state during 2001 and 2002.

* The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure reports a decrease of 19 doctors for that two-year period.

* Of the 1,273 physicians who left Kentucky as of 2003, 31% went to neighboring states such as Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, where insurance premiums are, on average, lower.

* Eighty-two of Kentucky’s 100 counties have no obstetricians – or just one

* Medical malpractice costs have risen an average of 11.6% a year since 1975 in contrast to an average annual increase of 9.4% for overall tort costs.

* A poll conducted by the Courier Journal in early 2004 found that 68% of Kentuckians favor a limit on malpractice awards.

* 78% of responders from Northern Kentucky favored limits; 77% in South central Kentucky; 70% in Western Kentucky and the Bluegrass area; 67% in Louisville and 56% in Eastern Kentucky.

* Kentucky’s ratio of doctors-to-residents has grown at a rate exceeding that of Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee – including some states that impose malpractice caps.

* An estimated 600 to 1,400 hospital deaths in Kentucky each year occur due to preventable medical errors – costing residents, families and communities $244 million to $416 million each year.

* The annual cost of medical malpractice insurance to Kentucky’s health care providers is $81.8 million.

* According to the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank, 4.7% of Kentucky’s doctors have been responsible for 49.9% of all malpractice payouts to patients.

* In Kentucky, 83.3% of doctors have not made a medical malpractice payout since
September 1990.

* As of early 2004, 12 % of Kentucky doctors (17 of 141) who made three or more malpractice payouts since 1990 were disciplined by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. Only 20 percent (11 of 55) who made four or more malpractice payouts were disciplined.

* On average, medical malpractice insurance comprises 2.8% of a Kentucky doctor’s income.

* Each year 32,000 older adults suffer from hip fractures—contributing to more than 1,500 deaths—attributable to drug-induced falls.

* Two million older Americans are addicted or at risk of addiction to minor tranquilizers or sleeping pills because they have used them daily for at least one year.

* According to the Fortune 500 in 2002, the drug industry ranked second among all business sectors in return on shareholder equity, with a rate more than two-and-a-half times the 2002 Fortune 500 median (27.6% compared with 10.2%).

* In the 1990s, the drug industry’s profitability grew to almost four times the Fortune 500 median.

* Vioxx (arthritis medication now off the market) was more heavily advertised in 2000 than Budweiser and Pepsi.

* Pfizer (maker of Benadryl, Celebrex, Cortizone, Lipitor, Neosporin, Rolaids, Sudafed, Viagra, Zoloft, Zyrtec, and other medications) had more profits in 2001 than all of the Fortune 500 homebuilding, apparel, railroad and publishing companies combined.

* Of the 50 most popular drugs discovered, 45 were discovered with taxpayer-funded research.

* Compared to all other industries, the federal tax burden on the drug industry is 40% lower.

* According to the National Institute of Health, taxpayer-funded scientists conducted 55 percent of the research projects that led to the discovery and development of the top five selling drugs in 1995.

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