Monday, February 28, 2005

Chipping away at the malpractice problem...

In Virginia, they are looking at excluding premature babies from the litigation process. The argument is that prematurity causes many of the bad outcomes rather than medical error:

"Proponents of the weight limit said that such injuries are a consequence of prematurity, not the birth process. Because bad outcomes in premature infants are frequently unavoidable, they should be ineligible for a program that focuses on birth-related events that can produce malpractice actions, they said.

Studies of the program, however, have warned since its earliest days that as many as a third of malpractice actions against doctors and hospitals involve premature infants."


Meanwhile, in Arizona, they are looking at asking patients to waive their right to sue before receiving medical care. There are similar plans in many states for buying "limited tort" options for car insurance:

"The notion of shifting to a contract-law system where patients waive their litigation rights was among a handful of ideas mentioned at the Arizona Litigation Reform Summit on Friday. Other included getting doctors to lobby their patients for reform and paying injured patients over time rather than in one lump sum. "

The same article describes attempts to cap the hourly fees that lawyers can earn. Not sure if that is the right answer, but I do tend to think that $20K per hour is a bit excessive:

"Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., in explaining that he tried to pass federal legislation to limit lawyer fees to $2,000 per hour, then $10,000 per hour and finally $20,000 per hour. The bill failed after winning just 37 votes in the Senate. "



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