Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Medical Malpractice

Medical practices in the United States have improved dramatically over the last few decades.  The number of new diseases and cures doctors have discovered has increased exponentially.  Unfortunately, like the number of new discoveries, the number of medical malpractice suits that are filed has increased exponentially also.  Medical malpractice law suits are a major problem and need to be capped and regulated by the government.  

Physicians fear and expect malpractice suits.  Often they happen more than once to every physician.  Just because a physician has been sued does not make them bad. Some physicians in high risk fields such as surgery and obstetrics are often sued every six years.  Surgeons have to pay anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000 a year in medical malpractice insurance premiums, since they are so likely to get sued.  Physicians are forced to buy malpractice insurance.  Malpractice insurance rates are incredibly high, to cover physicians for when a lawsuit is filed. 

Physicians practice defensive medicine, or the ordering of unnecessary tests, to prevent being sued for malpractice.  Reports say that 18 -28% of all tests done are to prevent law suits.    Many doctors are afraid to admit mistakes, in fear of being sued, so if they make a mistake they will not ask for help to fix the mistake, therefore they will not learn from their mistake. 

Lawyers make 30% to 50% of the amount of money won from cases.  This promotes lawyers to look for "victims", or people to claim they have gained injuries from doctors.  This puts the court system into disarray and prevents people with true claims from getting the legal help they need. 

Patients are allowed to sue for obscure situations.  For example a pediatrician was sued after an infant underwent a routine two month check up, then later that week died of sudden infant death syndrome, even though sudden infant death happens with out warning.  In another case, after a woman under went life saving pancreatic cancer surgery, she sued for a pain in her arm that she blamed on the medicine the physician gave her. 

States that impose a medical malpractice suit cap tend to have more physicians.   Many states have enacted a $250,000 cap on non – economical malpractice suits. Malpractice insurance rates are much lower, so the states attract many new physicians.  Also different specialties in the medical field that have lower malpractice suit, or insurance, rates seem to attract more physicians. 

If malpractice suit caps were put in place, more Americans could access health care.  It would be cheaper, therefore easier for people to access.  Physicians would not fear being sued, so they would be less likely to perform defensive medicine.

Medical malpractice suits are a very extreme problem in our country.  There is an answer to help the problem in our country: the government should regulate, and cap the amount of a medical malpractice suit.  It will have a positive effect on many parts of the health care and judiciary system: help lower the overall cost of health care and take some of the stress off the judiciary system, and cause there to be less scam cases. 


The Green Giant


Anonymous said...

Get your facts right! Malpractice claims haven't exploded exponentially. Malpractice payments are at the lowest levels recorded since the National Practitioner Data Bank started collecting payment data in 1990.

What we actually need is true malpractice reform to reduce malpractice in the first place.

National Practitioner Data Bank data shows that in most states only about two percent of physicians have been responsible for over half of all the money paid out for malpractice since 1990. NPDB data also shows that quite often these two percent have multiple payments in their records but no action by state licensing boards to revoke their licenses or restrict their practices. Similarly, most often no action has been taken by hospital peer reviewers to revoke or restrict their clinical privileges. So the "repeat offenders" continue commit more malpractice.

To have true malpractice reform the licensing boards and peer reviewers need to get serious about protecting the public from physicians with a pattern of malpractice.

It is also worth noting that there are fewer than 20,000 malpractice payments each year for all causes although the Institute of Medicine estimates that there are about 100,000 deaths each year from malpractice. Other sources double that number. Only about 28 percent of malpractice payments involve patient death. Thus we can estimate that at most only about 3 to 6 percent of all malpractice victims receive any malpractice payment.

The real problem isn't malpractice payments. To save money -- and more importantly, to save lives and prevent injury -- we need true malpractice reform that reduces malpractice itself. We need to stop treating the symptoms -- malpractice payments -- and instead treat the disease -- malpractice.

MachV said...

I think we've all seen the commercials, the ones asking have you or a loved one been injured or killed by the use of (insert some drug or procedure) which end with "call the law firm of ________". Personnaly I think it is ridiculous. People should just let doctors try and do their job of helping them.

Meatloaf said...

I agree with MachV but sometimes the doctors don't diagnose people right and that causes health problems when they are treated for something that they don't really have, and that is just because the doctor was being stupid

Anonymous said...

The doctors aren't being stupid, Meatloaf, they were just carrying misleading information. I think people need to stop suing physicians for little things that goes wrong to them. Like how that one lady sued the physician because her baby died of SIDS. Hello? SUDDEN infant death syndrome? I understand that she has lost her child at a very young age but SIDS is very common for newborn babies. She didn't have to sue the physician just because of the grievance from the loss of her child.

Germ-x said...

Alright Meatloaf, doctors aren't perfect, nobody is. There are a lot of rare diseases that cause death and its not the doctors fault. It's reasearchers fault. We need to provide more money for research in order to find out more about rare diseases. And also, doctors don't run tests just to cover their butts! They run tests to try and solve the problem. Running more tests eliminates the possibilities of what the disease is or could be. You are better off knowing the cure by running more tests. Know what your talking about before you write. Who ever anonymous is, their right. Your facts aren't that accurate.