Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Discussion of Tort Reform Proposals

From DDL, who has posted here several times. DDL's blog debates the pro's and con's of many of the tort reform proposals that have been discussed here, and elsewhere. Definitely worth a read (or a bookmark).

Link...

29 comments:

DDL said...

Thank you for linking to my blog.

I would like to point out there may be other factors in this debate besides the obvious.
There is the linguistic battle between lawyers and doctors. When lawyers and democrats talk about this issue, they want to use the word "malpractice" as much as possible. Mal is the prefix for evil or ill or bad. So medical malpractice conjures up images of evil medicine, like doctors (maybe doctor) who carve their initials into your internal organs. No doubt that guy deserves to get sued. Although I wonder if there is a conspiracy there between the doctor and patient to defraud the insurance company like in that 1993 movie "Malice" with Alec Baldwin and Nicole Kidman. sorry for the spoiler.

Doctors, on the other hand, want to use the word liability as much as possible because liability makes you want to think about whether the doctors are actually responsible for the bad outcomes. Ask any lawyer, Its a lot easier to collect money from doctors than from god or nature or randomness.
To see the truth in this just go to your search engine and type in medical malpractice, you will get mostly if not all law firms. Type medical liability and you will get the American Medical Association, the White House (who side with the doctors), and insurance firms.

The other battle is the political side. Some may think that republicans are brinnging up this issue because they want to punish the trial lawyer democratic supporters. That may be true but there are more obvious, more political, reasons. Money and votes. In 1990, The last year that opensecrets.org made their data availiable, the health care profession and insurance industry evenly split their donations to both parties. In 2004 that number changed almost to 60-40 advantage to Republicans. Republicans brought up the HEALTH act of 2004 knowing it had no chance of passing the democratic filibuster, but they wanted the democrats on record in an election year as "obstructing" "medical liability reform."
As for votes, you don't need a poll to tell you that the public trust doctors more than lawyers. More than that, compare how many people know a doctor( the guy they trust with their lives) and how many know a lawyer.( for every guy suing, there's another guy being sued) If you think about it, it's a brilliant political strategy. Not passing medical liability reform may be better to republicans in the long run. I would not be surprised if the same tactic is used in the 06 election. Democratic Senators are caught in a difficult position.

admin said...

DDL - Thanks for your insight. You present well reasoned arguments on both sides, which is a rarity in this polarized debate.

Though I'd agree that doctors may be trusted more than lawyers by the public - the public also has great sympathy for the downtrodden which proably outweighs any public trust of doctors or distrust of lawyers.

There are lots of negative outcomes in medicine. Many people die, and some get sick and never recover. Sometimes its the doctor's fault - probably most of the time its not. The news media is quick to put stories on the 6:00 news about sick kids with cerebral palsy or people that suffer chronic pain. The stories are heart wrenching, and the public doesn't like stories without neat endings. Somebody MUST to be to blame, right? The doctors are almost always portrayed as villains in these stories. One day I'll complile some examples of these stories...

Bottom line - whether or not you believe there is a crisis or not, the reality of the situation is that doctors are leaving the profession in droves, applications to the high risk specialties are way down (which in turn is driving down the quality of tomorrow's ob/gyns and surgeons) and this viscious cycle will result in poorer quality of healthcare for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Where is the proof that doctors are leaving the profession in droves?

admin said...

Link...

The unreliable system limits access to health care.
* 43% of doctors have considered leaving the medical profession due to changes caused by the threat of liability.
* 29% of doctors say they have been interested in a certain specialty but shied away from it due to fear of liability.
* 50% of medical students say the medical liability crisis affected their choice of specialty, and 39% say the crisis affected the state in which they will locate.

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