Health care is a fraud, demographic, anti-competative, ethics, cultural, malpractice and policy problem, but not a malpractice claim problem.
We have too much malpractice. That is a big problem. The statistics show us that hospitals and doctors get by with more than they get charged. Most people injured by medical malpractice do not bring legal claims. Depending on which medical reserch you believe, between 100,000 and near 200,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors.
Negliance has to be addressed. Doctors have resisted scrutnity over the years. They don’t appreciate people looking over their shoulders. Therefore, we don’t have adequate oversight into doctor and hospital performance. If a doctor comes into surgery with a hangover from a long night at the country club and happens to mess somebody up he should have to pay. The courts and some hungry lawyers will be waiting for him.
Last week, the Congressman from our district, a doctor, had a news story in a local newspaper touting tort reform. He cited an example of a local doctor who had been sued in a malpractice case. The doctor increased his orders for tests by 550% and referrals to specialists by 350% in one year. Where is the ethic there? Is it ethical to make your patient go through the rigors of tests, as well as risks, just to cover your rear end or establish some legal immunity?
Courts render a lot of injustice, but any replacement is sure to have it’s own problems. Plus, in the absence of adequate scrutiny the courts protect patient safety. And then, you always have the 7th amendment.
Tort reform cannot be allowed to be a distraction from meaningful changes is health costs. Not this time! Not when health care takes 18% of GDP and is projected to take 40% in 2050. Not when families pay 10% to 15% of their income for health needs. The do-nothing years have passed.