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View Diary: Medical Error, Liability, and Murtha (322 comments)

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  •  Try this interview (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freelunch, dinotrac

    Very good overview of the issues within the system.


    Q. A lot of people seem to have taken up the cause of tort reform. Why isn’t it included in the health care legislation pending on Capitol Hill?

    Because it’s a red herring. It’s become a talking point for those who want to obstruct change. But [tort reform] doesn’t accomplish the goal of bringing down costs.

    Why not?

    As the cost of health care goes up, the medical liability component of it has stayed fairly constant. That means it’s part of the medical price inflation system, but it’s not driving it. The number of claims is small relative to actual cases of medical malpractice.

    But critics of the current system say that 10 to 15 percent of medical costs are due to medical malpractice.

    That’s wildly exaggerated. According to the actuarial consulting firm Towers Perrin, medical malpractice tort costs were $30.4 billion in 2007, the last year for which data are available. We have a more than a $2 trillion health care system. That puts litigation costs and malpractice insurance at 1 to 1.5 percent of total medical costs. That’s a rounding error. Liability isn’t even the tail on the cost dog. It’s the hair on the end of the tail.

    You said the number of claims is relatively small. Is there a way to demonstrate that?

    We have approximately the same number of claims today as in the late 1980s. Think about that. The cost of health care has doubled since then. The number of medical encounters between doctors and patients has gone up — and research shows a more or less constant rate of errors per hospitalizations. That means we have a declining rate of lawsuits relative to numbers of injuries.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:00:23 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  That interview doesn't answer the question. (0+ / 0-)

      I didn't understand this part:

      For gray areas where awards and settlements
      are typically (but not always)
      excluded, such as punitive damages

      but I do understand that they didn't include any defensive actions against legal action.

      I also think that comparing $30 billion against a $2Trillion health system understates reality, if only because parts of that system -- like Worker's comp -- greatly restrict the ability to file malpractice suits.

      As it is, the reported cost is about $250-300 per family per year.  Not a fortune, but not nothing, especially to those at the low end of the wage scale.

      Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

      by dinotrac on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:19:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong title on above comment - sigh (0+ / 0-)

      Getting too old to keep. ;0)

      Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

      by dinotrac on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:20:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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