Vox Populi

Exerpt from The Medical Malpractice Myth, by Tom Baker, an excerpt

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Medical malpractice premiums are skyrocketing. “Closed” signs are sprouting on health clinic doors.

A good book

Doctors are leaving the field of medicine, and those who remain are practicing in fear and silence. Pregnant women cannot find obstetricians. Billions of dollars are wasted on defensive medicine. And angry doctors are marching on state capitols across the country.

All this is because medical malpractice litigation is exploding. Egged on by greedy lawyers, plaintiffs sue at the drop of a hat. Juries award eye-popping sums to undeserving claimants, leaving doctors, hospitals, and their insurance companies no choice but to pay huge ransoms for release from the clutches of the so-called “civil justice” system. Medical malpractice litigation is a sick joke, a roulette game rigged so that plaintiffs and their lawyers’ numbers come up all too often, and doctors and the honest people who pay in the end always lose.

This is the medical malpractice myth.

This fear has inspired legislative action on a nationwide scale three times in my lifetime. The first time was back in the mid-1970s. I remember sitting at the dinner table listening to my father report what he’d heard at his medical society meeting: “Medical malpractice insurance premiums are going through the roof. Frivolous litigation and runaway juries will drive doctors out of the profession.” The answer, the medical societies and their insurance companies said, was medical malpractice tort reform—to make it harder for misguided patients and their lawyers to sue.

What the medical societies did not tell my father, or almost anyone else, was that their own research showed that the real problem was too much medical malpractice, not too much litigation. In the mid-1970s the California Hospital and Medical Associations sponsored a study on medical malpractice that they expected would support their tort reform efforts. But, to their surprise and dismay, the study showed that medical malpractice injured tens of thousands of people every year—more than automobile and workplace accidents. The study also showed that, despite the rhetoric, most of the victims did not sue. But almost nobody heard about the study because the associations decided that these facts conflicted with their tort reform message.

via The Medical Malpractice Myth by Tom Baker, an excerpt (emphasis added).

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