Patient Safety? Check.
The debate about medical malpractice often centers around whether patients hurt by it should be able to ask for non-economic damages, or whether those awards should be capped at a certain amount. I've chimed in on this from time to time but maintained that paramount to any discussion about the health care system is the welfare of the people who go through it. Patient safety is most important, which is why a focus on measures to improve patient safety, and cut costs to the health care system, should be the primary objective.
The problem I have with tort reform in the medical malpractice context is that it's premised on a disingenuous concern for people. If we're concerned about doctors being victimized by high malpractice premiums, we should force insurance companies to open their books and show why they're charging so much. Instead, people just accept the claim that lawsuits drive up premiums. There are many factors, including how the insurance company invests the money doctors pay them and how the market works with those investments. And CJ&D references studies refuting this tort "reform" talking point. Check them out.
And if we are so concerned with cutting costs to the health care system, we should focus on reducing costly errors that cause deaths and (expensive-to-correct) injuries, not the compensation to victims of errors that result from negligence.
One study shows how human error in medical procedures, which can lead to unnecessary injuries and even deaths, can be drastically reduced with just a few simple reminders. Here's an article which outlines the World Health Organization's study, finding that the use of a simple19-item patient safety checklist dramatically improves patient outcomes.
Hospitals should adopt extra measures like this, small, inexpensive things that can make a huge difference in terms of patient lives and health care costs associated with medical errors.
Finally, if we're concerned with all these different issues, shouldn't we also be concerned with patients' lives and how their livelihoods are affected when they suffer unnecessary injuries?