A Doctor’s Stance on Tort “Reform”
I really enjoyed this article. You should read it.
Defensive medicine is just one of the supposed systemic ills that doctors, doctors' lobbies and doctors' insurers invoke when they shill for what they call malpractice reform. Proponents of reform say that defensive medicine, frivolous lawsuits and high premiums are behind the surge in healthcare expenses. They insist that malpractice costs are forcing doctors to close their doors and depriving patients of care. Recently, three past presidents of the American Medical Association coauthored an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal that bundled all of these arguments into an attack on the public option. Their piece attempted to shift the blame for America's healthcare crisis away from private insurers and onto a supposed scourge of ambulance chasers. "The nation needs comprehensive medical malpractice reform," they wrote. "It is the surest and quickest way to slow down the rising cost of healthcare."
Their refrain is familiar to anybody following the healthcare reform debate. The only problem is that it's not true. There's nothing "sure or quick" about changing medical liability laws that will improve healthcare or its costs. Defensive medicine adds very little to healthcare's price tag, and rising malpractice premiums have had very little impact on access to care.
Let's look at the numbers. First, based on the current rhetoric, it's easy to assume we have an epidemic of malpractice suits in America. We don't.
Source: Healthcare Reform - Salon.com
And because I know some of you are too lazy to read the whole thing, here’s the conclusion:
“Tort reformers neglect the fact that malpractice reform won't save one extra life. To make that difference, insurers, doctors and their lobbyists like the AMA need to find ways to improve patient safety. So for those who push tort reform as a panacea for a sick healthcare system, working to prevent injuries is a much more noble pursuit than writing up baseless arguments for the back pages of a newspaper.” (Emphasis added.)