Do Poor People Sue Doctors More Frequently? Confronting Unconscious Bias and the Role of Cultural Competency
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, May 2012
8 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2012 Last revised: 14 Apr 2012
Date Written: 2012
Low-income patients are misperceived by some physicians as a more litigious group than other patients. This article attempts to address this misperception through a holistic approach. First, it presents the conclusions of a number of studies that reveal that economically-disadvantaged patient groups are, in fact, less likely to file medical malpractice lawsuits. The article then discusses how the results of these studies are substantiated by how lawyers are often discouraged from taking on low-income clients. Understanding how the contingency fee system operates helps explain why the poor are less likely to sue as lawyers weigh the risks and costs associated with gaining courtroom access. Despite knowledge of these realities, the article then purposes this misperception continues to be held among some possibly due to the presence of unconscious bias.
Unconscious bias describes how decision-making and rational are influenced by stereotypes without one being aware of it. Lastly, recommendations to confronting unconscious bias and reducing the risk of medical malpractice lawsuits are presented in order to address this misperception in total.
Keywords: medical malpractice, unconscious bias, cultural competency, low-income patients, contingency fee, physician misperception, orthopaedics
JEL Classification: K19, K32, K39, K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation