TorteDeForm

Kia Franklin

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?

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 9:51 AM, Jan 15, 2009 in Health Care
Permalink | Email to Friend


Comments

Here is the MedMal problem by the numbers. The numbers are from the State of Tennessee who has their report online courtesy of John Day at Dayontorts.com.

In 2007 their were 3,043 medmal suits in Tennessee. Their were 7 jury verdicts for the plaintiffs, 492 settlements for plaintiffs, 306 cases dismissed for defense verdicts and 2238 dismissed without payment.

This means that only one in 6 cases resulted in money going to the plaintiff. Total cost of defending these cases was $158,000,000. Claimants attorney costs were $40,000,000.

So here is how it all breaks down. The bulk of the cost of medical malpractice is defensive fees. Futher, only 1/6 of cases results in a settlement or money going to the plaintiff. If we get rid of the 5/6 of the cases that are found to be without merit, the defensive costs go way down, malpractice insurance costs go way down, and those that are injured are still paid.

Since there are patients who lose their medmal case because of the performance of their legal team, we can help them by opening up their attorneys to malpractice if we can have paid experts argue that they should have managed the case differently. Further, noneconomic damages could be assessed given the turmoil created by their attorneys management of the case.

Posted by: throckmorton | January 15, 2009 12:54 PM

Every medical error is the fault of the lawyer. The lawyer prevents the thorough investigation and prevention of future similar errors. The clinician and hospital have a duty to survive, before all others. The total plunder by the land pirate and the enabling cult criminal on the bench have so that all internal investigation is mere discovery for mostly weak and frivolous claims.

As a patient, I would like to see patient direct action groups arise, and to see them bring street justice to the land pirate.

It should start with a boycott of all land pirates by all product and service providers. Violent self-help also has total moral and intellectual justification, given the lack of any recourse in the airtight, rigged lawyer system.

The filing of weak claims is lawyer malpractice. Yet, they have dealt themselves total immunity and litigation privileges. The privity obstacle protects no other defendant save the lawyer. No one has immunity save the lawyer and the judge. These are vile cult criminals who must be stopped from their rampage against clinical care.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | January 15, 2009 11:23 PM

My primary point of contention w/ Throckmorton’s description of the problem is that Throckmorton assumes all 5/6 of the cases that don’t result in money to the plaintiff need to be eliminated. First of all, it’s not accurate to conclude that because a plaintiff didn’t get compensated, that the plaintiff’s case was without merit. Throckmorton, you even mention one instance in which a case is lost for reasons outside of the patient’s control that have nothing to do with actual injury or actual malpractice--inadequacies from the legal team. There’re also questions of whether the patient is being viewed fairly, whether there’s enough evidence, strength of expert witness testimony, etc. These can and do negatively affect the outcome of meritorious cases. So we don’t want a “solution” that cuts out these erroneously resolved disputes, we want a solution that allows these disputes to be brought and resolved properly, and we want claimants to be able to exhaust all measures available to get that done.

Additionally, I just don’t think it’s effective rhetoric to advocate for a right to sue and a right to pursue non-economic damages in the case of legal malpractice, but not when people’s lives have literally been permanently altered or endangered.

Supremacy, a good place to start the lawyer boycott would be to boycott commenting on blogs where lawyers, law degree holders, and law students are the primary contributors.

Posted by: Kia | January 16, 2009 6:36 PM

SC: I meant to put a smiley face at the end of that. Your comments are... interesting, to say the least. :) (There. Smiley face.)

Posted by: Kia | January 16, 2009 6:41 PM

Kia: We have discussed this before. I believe in torts. You do not believe enough in them to advocate allowing them to improve the lawyer and judge services. As you do, I oppose all tort reform, including limits on punitive damages ruled on by the Supreme Court. That is why Ted is shunning me. I love the rule of law, the lawyer, the judge. They will thank me later. I am here, their deprogrammer, to rescue them from the hierarchy of the criminal cult enterprise oppressing them as much as the public is oppressed.

I love you enough to feel strongly, your services are worth more than those of your male predecessors, and would like to see you compensated adequately.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | January 16, 2009 7:16 PM

Kia:

If 5 out of 6 medmal cases result in nothing for the plaintiffs, then only two things are possible. First, that the case was without merit or secondly, their legal team was inadequate. If we get rid of any of the cases without merit we save. The problem is that plantiffs who dont recieve compensation and who trully have a case are unable to recover damages from their attorneys. When a doctor is sued there is a parade of "experts" who say wh/she shuld have done this or that, or should have "Explained it this way". THis second guessing being the testimony for malpractice. Why should attorneys not face the same? If you have a good malpractice case and lose, your attorney should face the same "malpractice litigations" as physicians. Further, since they lost the amount that you were suing for namely economic and noneconomic damages, they should be responsible for them. It would be best since we dont want anyone who is trully injured to not be compensated, that all attorneys carry malpractice insurance in the amounts that would cover these acts.

So lets get rid of the percentage of medmal cases that are bogus, this will save on the huge cost to defend these, and lets let attorneys be held accountable for their actions in the same broad way that we hold physicians.

Posted by: throckmorton | January 17, 2009 8:00 AM

It is absolute lawyer malpractice to file a weak case. The relentless parade of such claims over decades makes their number an intentional tort by the owners of the courts, allowing these scams. The campaign contributions to judges by defense and plaintiff bars represent bribes. The judges are paid off criminal cult enforcers. The year after year statistics show scienter (knowledge and malice against the defendant, and a violation of their affirmed procedural due process rights).

The Grimm Fairy Tale: Torts.

The entire subject of torts is a scam. It is not designed to make injured plaintiffs whole. It never does. It is not designed to deter nor to improve product or service. It has never, ever done that. Only technology has ever improved anything.

Torts is a land pirate scam to plunder all productive parties. Self-help against this criminal enterprise has full moral and intellectual justification. I want to see a patient direct action group set out to deter these organized crime cult entities.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | January 17, 2009 8:57 AM