Skip to main content

Finally, the Congressional Budget Office confirms what many of us have known for a very long time: medical malpractice lawsuits is not a major driver of the rise in health care costs.  Hopefully, this will put this issue to rest once and for all.  But don't bet the farm on it.

First of all, let me put a disclaimer: I don't have a firm position on whether there should be limits on medical malpractice lawsuits.  But I do know that what should be a rational debate has been turned on its head by the right wing's usual scare tactics: unless we put caps on awards given by juries, our health care costs will soar through the stratosphere.

Well read pages 21-22 on thisrecently released analysis of various health care policy option:

By reducing the average size of malpractice awards, tort limits would ultimately reduce the cost of malpractice insurance premiums. But in CBO’s estimation, the effect would be relatively small—less than 0.5 percent of total health care spending.  

So there you have it folks.  All the attention that has been devoted to this topic by the media, at the behest of the right-wing noise machine, in order to reduce health care costs by one half of one percent.

Of course, the CBO had to throw in the 'defensive medicine' argument that the Right likes to make:

Proponents of limits on malpractice torts believe that such limits could reduce health care spending by much more than CBO’s estimate, perhaps by as much as 7 percent to 9 percent, primarily because of the reduction inthe practice of defensive medicine.

Curiously, the CBO does not attempt to evaluate this particular claim, which makes me think that the Budget Office does not take it seriously, but felt it had to be thrown the report in order to avoid charges of bias from Congressional Republicans.

Originally posted to lenlarga on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 03:36 AM PST.


With this new CBO report, will the right-wing finally stop making ridiculous claims about medical malpractice awards?

1%1 votes
98%54 votes

| 55 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  They cant let it go (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy Busey, ER Doc, OHdog

    Otherwise everything else they have been saying about costs would be swept away by the breeze.

    "Flying is simple. You just throw yourself at the ground and miss." ~Douglas Adams

    by LaFeminista on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 03:46:41 AM PST

  •  This doc reluctantly agrees. (13+ / 0-)

    I mean, doctors absolutely loathe the current malpractice "system". It is grossly inefficient, inequitable, almost completely ineffective at reducing error, emotionally brutalizing and glacially slow at reaching a result. It drives medical care in very unhelpful directions, e.g. the now-universal practice doing CT scans on every ER patient with the most trivial bump on the head, regardless of the long term radiation hazard.

    But it's not a significant factor in the explosion of health care costs.

    There are many reasons for us to reform our non-system of redress for medical error, to create a genuinely effective method for patient safety and error prevention. But saving money isn't one of them.

  •  Somewhere in Leviticus... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...there is, no doubt, some tortured interpretation that shows medical mal-practice suits to be an abomination, as bad as teh gays.

    The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true. J. Robert Oppenheimer {-8.25 / -5.64}

    by carver on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 04:17:32 AM PST

  •  What about all of the settlements paid by (0+ / 0-)

    insurance companies that never go to trial.  How did the CBO get a handle on those costs and the subsequent increase in malpractice insurance that is passed along to the consumer?  In short, most insurance companies would rather settle and avoid court, are these costs accounted for and if so, how?  I think the number is too small and don't buy it.

    •  Don't know their exact methodology (0+ / 0-)

      But even if we double or triple or quadruple their estimate, which is the best estimate we have, malpractice reform will still have a small effect on health care costs, compared to other proposals.

      That being said, there may be some merit to malpractice reform.  But we shouldn't pretend it will solve our health crisis.

  •  Deterrence and compensating victims (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stein, SciVo, FrankCornish, cordgrass, MsGrin

    If you or your family member are injured by one of the tens of thousands of negligent medical acts per year, you may want to be compensated.  Jurors are smart people, and they hear all the facts.  Commenting from 30,000 feet, looking down, is often not revealing.  Most doctors do good work, but like many of us, do not like being held accountable.  Most jurors are reluctant to find against doctors.

    This is no different than a car accident.  If someone runs a stop sign and injures you, the other is not a bad person, but the other caused you harm.  And the other should not run stop signs.  Compensation is due.  

    The vast majority of malpractice cases settle, and do not go to trial.  And the majority of med mal verdicts are in favor of the doctors.

    Funny how no one ever writes about the cases when a victim is unjustly denied recovery for wrongful injury because of unfair defense attorney and insurance company tactics.  They only write about the poor doctors being upset by lawsuits.  Like the corporations that want tort reform, the CEO's never talk about the times they were never held accountable but should have been.

    Millions of lives have been saved and our health is better because malpractice cases revealed drugs and medical practices that harmed people.  Nobody would have known otherwise.  Do you want to rely on the FDA?

    Doctors are not a special class of persons that deserve protection from accountability or irritation.  Neither are lawyers, who should be held accountable when making legal mistakes.  And presidents should be held accountable, by the way.

    We know what lack of accountability produces.  Disaster.

    •  Know what's even worse than defense attorneys? (0+ / 0-)

      Seriously, it's plaintiff attorneys.  If you're injured, the CHANCE of getting someone to take your case on continency is practically nil.  I haven't gone looking for studies on it, but seriously, to GET an attorney at all is nearly impossible if you don't have means to pay tens of thousands of dollars up front.

      And then if you DO get an attorney, don't go thinking they will represent YOU in the matter - they will be reprsenting their own interests, make no mistake about it.  The percentage out there who represents clients may be in double digits, but it wouldn't surprise me if it ain't.

      The game for them, apparently, is to figure out what the other side is likely to put out without much evidence, and then they figure out just how little time and money it would cost them to have to work for that.  I've seen it happen up close three times now, once in my own case.  The guy lied, and lied and lied to me some more.  Told me mediation would NEVER happen, and then whaddya know?  We were supposed to have mediation two days from now, but for your benefit, I've postponed it until next week.  But they'll never settle, so you don't have to take this seriously, and naw, we don't need to have our case together before then, we have a whole month before trial.

      Right.  Followed by:

      "If you don't take whatever they offer you today in mediation, I won't represent you in court."

      I was too stunned to realize a judge would not have allowed him to pull himself off my case at that point.  I had an unusual but fairly solid case.  The only expert he got for ME entirely undermined my argument about what happened, and he got this guy immediately before the mediation - clearly it was so that I had no choice but to do whatever he told me to do.  Then he told the mediator we had no case.

      I saw the exact same pattern happen twice with my neighbor suing over the death of her son from toxin in a building - I got her out of the situation with the first attorney who undermined her case, but the second guy was even snake-ier.  She paid for all the science in the case, and then he lied to her about giving the evidence to opposing counsel.  He admitted to her that he lied after he forced her to settle.  Her son's life turned out to be slightly more, um, valuable than what nearly killed me.  Her only son.

      I haven't been able to return to work in the past 4 1/2 years.  Now that I know what happened to me, it's possible I'll find ways to recover better and regain my strength.  But the $16K I got hardly makes up for having spent down my entire retirement and having lost that much salary.  It did help me to get my car back from repossession and to move to a state where the costs of living are substantially less exspensive so I can roughly afford to live on my SSDI.

      And I technically won.  Where do my losses get written up and exclaimed about?  Who bemoans my heart attack from volume depletion from massive bloodloss and the systemic hit I took which I may never recover from fully?  And who looks at the incentive that hospital system had to deny to my face that I had any damage in the interest of their protecting their own so that it was extremely difficult for me to get outside of that system where I had long-standing relationships with doctors and not much ability to go elsewhere based on my HMO's network?

      I sure won that one.

      All I want for Christmas is impeachment

      by MsGrin on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 10:32:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So let's be clear (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, ER Doc, OHdog, SciVo, MsGrin

    if it's NOT lawsuits then what is it?

    Hmm....maybe...Big Insurance Co, For Profit Hospitals, and Big Pharma.... you know, Republican patrons...

    the long-term big corporate strategy of Republicans needs to be named, shamed, and shown for the complete disaster at all levels that it  truly is

    Yes We DID!! Thank God. Canada's too friggin' cold.

    by Dan E in Blue Hampshire on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 04:42:56 AM PST

  •  Outlawing (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, Naniboujou, tegrat, shann, SciVo, MsGrin

    advertisement of prescription drugs would do a lot more to bring costs down. What's the point of a 60 second spot on TV except to incite millions of uninformed people to pressure their doctors on a subject they know nothing about?

    On the flip side, I'd also reinstate the ban on advertising by lawyers. If they're going to chase ambulances, at least make them spend money on gas.

    •  I also think the whole system (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Creosote, tegrat, SciVo, MsGrin

      of doctors being wined and dined by drug reps has got to stop.

      I took my wife to the doctor who prescribed her a particular medication.  Later, I noticed the clock on his wall had the name of the medication, as well as several other items in his office.

      One year later, the drug was found to have potentially damaging effects on the liver.

      I don't want a doctor recommending a drug based on info spoon fed to him or her by a drug rep.

  •  10 Billion. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, tegrat, SciVo, MsGrin

    That's what Health Insurance companies made a year in PROFIT, according to the April 2007 issue of Fortune magazine.

    That could be a lot of health care.

    Right now, it's not.

    Pootie fan? Me too! Check out my cat advice blog.
    The Way of Cats

    by WereBear on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 05:07:18 AM PST

  •  The Right Is Wrong About Everything (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    By definition. So this is no surprise.

    What you see is what you get, but what you don't see is what ends up getting you.

    by Existentialist on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 05:35:33 AM PST

  •  Wait! (0+ / 0-)

    I don't quite understand the point of this diary.

    In 2007, health care cost 2 trillion dollars in the US.  If the direct effects of malpractice claims is 0.5 percent, this would amount to 10 billion dollars.

    If the indirect effects of malpractice claims on medical practice increases costs by 10 percent, this would be an additional 200 billion dollars.  This is 200 billion dollars spent on health care that does not change outcomes or improve quality.  It's just wasted money.

    Am I understanding that the argument is that 210 billion dollars is not enough money to be worth worrying about?  

    I don't agree.

    It's too bad the school of hard knocks gives you the final exam before the first class

    by Imavehmontah on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 06:03:17 AM PST

    •  I don't agree with the 210 billion number (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That is not supported by the CBO.

      As for the 10 billion, we could have a debate about that, but it should be recognized that we have bigger fish to fry (much bigger fish) in terms of containing health care costs overall.

    •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You assert that this money (whatever the number) does not change outcomes or improve quality.  I disagree.  Malpractice suits should be the last resort for someone injured by a doctor.  In most cases, they are the only resort.  What mechanism is in place to weed out bad docs?

      Government can't restrict free speech, but corporations can? WTF

      by kyoders on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 07:42:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A valid malpractice suit should be permitted (0+ / 0-)

        I have no tolerance for actual malpractice.  If someone has been injured by care that does not adhere to practice standards that are known to be effective, there should be recourse.  The practice of defensive medicine is a different matter than adhering to best practice standards.

        The 200 billion (or whatever the number) does not change outcomes or improve quality when it is done in a defensive way that is designed to pre-emptively defend a malpractice suit that may or may not ever come.  Far too many tests are ordered, and the monetary costs and other costs are resources that are wasted that could have gone towards good medical care.  You could do a lot of preventive care for 200 billion dollars.

        The mechanism in place to help fix the problems of docs that make errors is the peer review process.  It needs to be revamped, monitored and augmented to be optimally effective.  Development of electronic medical records that use unambiguous coding of medical terms and outcomes would be a big help to monitor the quality of care and provide remedial steps for docs that are suboptimal.  Again, 200 billion would go a long way towards that goal.

        I would much rather prevent errors than award damages for errors.  Incentives and feedback are the way to go.

        It's too bad the school of hard knocks gives you the final exam before the first class

        by Imavehmontah on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 04:18:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  They all know the same as we know, that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, SciVo

    it's all about the insurance industry.  They've been gouging their insured for years and getting away with it.  The next move is to prevent having to pay even for  legitimate claims.  It really cuts into their profit margin.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 06:17:22 AM PST

    •  There is that, of course... (0+ / 0-)

      but some insurance plans end up being 'savings' plans for doctors - the docs get to write off what they spend on the insurance, but if they don't have to have it spent on their defense, they get a massive percentage of it back after a time and I don't believe they get taxed on that return.  Nice system - sure gives some docs a stake in reducing patients' ability to sue successfully.

      All I want for Christmas is impeachment

      by MsGrin on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 10:37:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where Is the Savings? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I looked through that long (235 page) report for a breakdown of the other contributions to healthcare costs, in addition to the 0.5% from reducable (by law, not medicine) malpractice suits. But I couldn't find it.

    I didn't see any examination of basic supply and demand for doctors in there, either. There are too few doctors, which anyone waiting an hour for their appointment (past the appointed time) to see "their" doctor for 10 minutes could tell you. With such badly mismatched supply and demand, is it any wonder that doctors make something like $600 an hour when they can get their insurance billings paid?

    I missed the investigation of cost savings from prohibiting price gouging on patented drugs, too. Those "temporary artificial government-created monopolies" (definition of a patent) granted to the first pharmaco to reduce to a pill a traditional medicine cultivated for millennia in some part of the world. Or what remaking the drug approval process would do to lower the costs of entry to below several $BILLION per attempt, which today locks out anyone but the biggest drug corps from undertaking approval - and deemphasizes quality in favor of time to market.

    Or what reform of the drug marketing industry that bribes doctors with office supplies, tax-deductible (or all expense paid) "conference" family trips, and other inducements to merely quote pharmaco marketing when diagnosing patients. Which really maximizes those 15 minutes profit for everyone, but not at all necessarily the health of each patient.

    I'm glad the CBO could debunk the "malpractice makes us charge a fortune" myth down to 0.5%. But where's the careful examination of the other 99.5%, in which huge wastes and corruption are hiding? They diagnosed the "measles outbreak" to be really just acne. When are they going to get to diagnosing that chronic hacking, bloody cough as lung cancer?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 06:36:30 AM PST

    •  In fairness, the report does say... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DocGonzo, MsGrin

      ...that price controls on prescription drugs will save billions.

      But I agree with your overall thrust.  The overall effect of the report is to make one believe that national healthcare is too expensive, thus we can't afford it.

      Every other country CAN afford universal health care.  I guess they are just smarter than us.

    •  $600 an hour (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      works out to 1.2 million a year. Just a bit more than the average md makes. There is a pretty wide range of income for docs. GP or family medicine docs take home $120,000-150,000 a year. Good but not stratospheric. General surgeons make about $400,000 a year on average, but they also work about 80 hours a week. So they have two $200,000 jobs. The subspecialties earn more, but most are working more than 40 hour weeks.

      We have nothing to fear except for the really scary stuff

      by charityslave on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 07:18:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  $600 an Hour (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Doctors don't work fulltime. I don't know where you're getting your salary figures. But the fact is that between me and my insurance corp, we're paying at least $150 for fifteen minutes service at the doctor for even routine checkups and travel prescriptions. That's $600 an hour.

        And that's not counting all the free stuff doctors get. Including free or discount healthcare. But also including free (or tax-deductible, therefore steeply discounted) vacations, office supplies and other pharmaco marketing bribes.

        If I were making that kind of money, I would be happy to choose between many hours of it or more time off.

        And this stuff isn't just abstract for me. My father is a dentist, and I was premed until the end of college, when I decided not to be a part of the racket (and work with so many callous moneygrubbers).

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 09:32:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In Defense of Doctors (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I think many get into the profession for the right reasons.  But they system sucks them into a game where they must balance their patients' welfare with the demands of paying for office overhead.  So they sell out in order to make a living.

          I don't think anyone enters this profession simply to get rich.  Except for the overpaid heart surgeons, maybe.

          •  I Think They Do (0+ / 0-)

            One of the top reasons I decided not to apply to medschool after pursuing a premed programme for 10 years was that my fellow college premeds were entering the profession primarily to get rich. Secondarily for the status. Such a small percentage were committed to compassion and relieving suffering that it wasn't a defining factor.

            The Chief Orthopedist at NYC's Hospital for Special Surgery was my grandmother's chief surgeon for two decades of advanced surgery. I grew up in his office, and his example inspired me to pursue medicine. In our meeting to get his college recommendation letter, he thanked me for pursuing medicine. He told me "We can now train an ape to cut people open and sew them up, but only a human can find out how they feel and make them feel better, Too many medschool entrants are just educated apes."

            Maybe they don't enter the profession, sometime during their education, to get rich. But that's what has clearly driven so many of them, perhaps the majority, since I've had a chance to see what does.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 01:19:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Victims of medical malpractice deserve (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tegrat, MsGrin

    just compensation and financial penalties are an effective deterrent to bad medicine. That is the main point missed in the entire debate. The right talks about "frivolous" lawsuits. Baloney. Over two million people die each year from mistakes and countless more are injured. Only a handful result in litigation. That means that most victims are uncompensated and many of the redress and are under compensated due to caps on recoveries. Truly frivolous cases are rare and are easily disposed of without trials.

    Colorado has compensation limits. You can recover actual damages, but only a few 100K for compensatory damages. So if your arm is amputated when you go in for an appendectomy you can recover for lost wages if you can prove you needed your arm for work, but you can't get but a pittance for going through the rest of your life for not being able to hug your wife and kids and doing all the other things you do with two arms.

    Moreover, the only way to curb bad medicine is to punish the practitioners. The state medical organizations are far too forgiving. Money is the only effective avenue. If bad doctors have to pay out the nose they will lose their insurance. That is a good thing. And if they continue without insurance, they will be bankrupted. That is a better thing.

    The victims of malpractice are entirely lost in the debate about litigation costs. Whether that cost is 0.5% or 10% is really not the issue. The issue is bad medicine and what can be done to stop it. In the absence of a strong regulatory structure, the legal system is the only avenue for redress and remedy.

    •  I sense anger in your comments Gary Norton (0+ / 0-)

      and I understand where it comes from.  But I think your remarks are inflammatory and vindictive, and this is counter-productive.

      Your comments don't accurately reflect what is going on.  Yes, people are injured and die from medical mistakes.  Yes, some of those mistakes constitute malpractice, and should result in compensation to the victims.  Yes, some of the malpractice is egregious enough to warrant punishment and removal of the privilege of practicing medicine.  But I think you overstate the case.

      I know of no evidence that 2 million people a year die of medical mistakes.  In 2005 for example, the total number of people who died of all causes in the US was 2.5 million.  I think its beyond imagination to propose that 80% of all deaths were caused by medical mistakes.  That is not meant to defend any medical mistakes - just to point out that your comments start from a very flawed and potentially inflammatory premise.

      However many medical mistakes occur (and again, I agree that the goal is to have none), certainly not all are caused by physicians.  However many mistakes occur, certainly not all arise from behavior that is compensible.  However many mistakes occur, certainly many are contributed to by multiple factors, including the behaviors of patients as well.  

      The best remedy for mistakes is to identify the root cause of the mistake and to take appropriate steps to prevent the mistakes from happening again.   Without this action, mistakes will continue to occur.  Another remedy for mistakes is to educate health care providers about best practice guidelines for caring for patients.  This will help to prevent mistakes.   Practitioners who comply with best practice guidelines should be immune from prosecution, even when the outcomes are sub-optimal. Certainly, injuries deserve compensation when the mistakes are clearly causative and preventable.  But in many cases where outcomes are undesirable, causes are not so clearcut.  

      I agree that true medical malpractice may warrant legal action.  

      It's too bad the school of hard knocks gives you the final exam before the first class

      by Imavehmontah on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 05:39:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do a google search on medical mistakes (0+ / 0-)

        and deaths. You'll see I'm understating the issue.

      •  Good data is hard (0+ / 0-)

        to find and the 2 million number may be off. Here is a 2004 report about 200K deaths per year in hospitals from mistakes. That is only deaths and only in hospitals.

        But more importantly only a small percentage of victims of errors seek compensation. And the few who do face gigantic legal hurdles. The concept of frivolous lawsuits is totally bogus. Suits are expensive to bring and lawyers don't waste their time and money on bogus claims. (There are exceptions of course.) Suits without merit are dismissed in the early stages. The problem is that the medical community and their insurers label pretty much every suit as non meritorious.

        I think there is too little legal accountability, not too much. The system is slanted against plaintiffs. I would like to see that reversed.

        I commented on your post to say that talking only about cost is buying into this debate from the republican/business/insurers/doctors perspective. The assumption is that this money is wasted. It is not. It goes to real live people who have been hurt by the negligence of others. That is my focus.

      •  The 200 K deaths reported (0+ / 0-)

        need some interpretation and context.  Again, please note that I completely agree that improvement is needed and that compensation is warranted in some cases.  However, let's look at the underlying root causes sited in the study you quote:

        Sepsis:  An infection resulting from an error in care can be due to an improper technique, or to improper nursing care of a device that violates the normal body reisistance to infection.  My point here is that nursing care is more likely than physician care to be implicated.  In addition, the fact that many hospitals are contaminated by multiply antibiotic resistant bacteria which can not be eradicated makes a fatal outcome more likely, and not quite so preventable as you might guess.

        Pressure sores:  Almost always a result of nursing care.  With elderly patients, poor overall nutrition, alterations in consciousness, and injury to skin resulting from the need to restrain people to prevent other injuries like falls makes prevention more difficult than you might expect.

        Failure to rescue:  I am assuming that this means failure to resucitate someone who has a cardio-pulmonary arrest.  The fact that someone stops breathing or has their heart stop by itself should tell you that this is a very sick person.  Not everyone who dies can be resucitated.  Much depends on how soon after the heart or breathing stops they are found.  The inciting cause of the event is also a significant factor.  Sometimes it is due to poor technique, and this circumstance can and should be corrected.

        Pulmonary embolism:   A blood clot is a predictable and potentially preventable complication.  Good algorithms are available that allow prophylactic measures to be employed.  I agree that failure to be proactive on this score is the physician's responsibility and should be compensated.

        So, of the 4 major errors quoted, 3 are not the sole responsibility of physicians, and of those 3, there are many complicating factors.  All 4 of these errors are best handled preventatively through education and continuous improvement techniques.  Yes, compensation should be available where warranted.  I just think its going in the wrong direction to use the courts as the prime mode of resolving the root cause of these problems.

        It's too bad the school of hard knocks gives you the final exam before the first class

        by Imavehmontah on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:47:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  In single-payer financed healthcare systems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    malpractice premiums are a fraction of what US doctors pay.  Why?  Because the bulk of the awards in the US are not punitive, but for the future healthcare costs of the victim.  Yet another reason to go to single-payer financing.  This of course does not address the "defensive medicine" problem, which is perhaps better addressed by the physicians doing a better job of policing their own or defining what is best practice.  A small number of doctors are responsible for a disproportionately large number of malpractice suits.
    Malpractice premiums also rise when markets are down because the insurers play the markets with premium income, a practice that should be regulated.  

  •  Lawsuit abuse is a right-wing myth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SciVo, MsGrin

    The vast majority of awards rarely include punitive damages. On top of that, even after a jury awards a verdict, the lawyers on both sides usually settle before going to an appeals court, which might throw out a verdict. Even the infamous McDonald's coffee case's judgment was reduced when it reached the appellate court level.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site