The latest statistics on medical malpractice claims paid — meaning the lawsuit or complaint had some merit — show that the Tar Heel State had the second highest number of any state in our region. Here is the breakdown from the Kaiser Foundation:

  • Maryland (MD) — 170
  • North Carolina (NC) — 146
  • South Carolina (SC) — 135
  • Virginia (VA) — 112
  • Washington, DC — 26
  • West Virginia (WV) — 77

These statistics do not mean that doctors, nurses and other health care providers in North Carolina are worse than those in any other state. In fact, North Carolina accounted for only 1.3 percent of the paid malpractice claims in the United States during 2008.

What the statistics do show is that patients do suffer injuries at the hands of the people they most trust to keep them safe and healthy. And, thankfully, when such injuries occur, the patients receive compensation for their pain, suffering and other losses.

My colleagues and I work every day with victims of medical malpractice and their families. We know firsthand how hard it is to recover from any medical error or act of medical negligence. We also know that while no health care provider sets out to make a mistake, responsible parties need to be held accountable when mistakes do happen.