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).


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Taxing lawyers and doctors

This note, from RiskProf is about tacing lawyers and doctors to help pay for insurance. Seems as if the insurance companies are the only winners here, doesn't it? The costs are just being spread across a wider group of people. Doesn't stop the progress of frivolus malpractice lawsuits or reduce the systemic costs:

NJ is taxing lawyers $75 per capita to contribute to a med mal insurance
assistance funds which will be used to subsidize med mal premiums.
Employers are also paying $3 per employee and medical professionals are
also being subject to a $75 per capita tax.

Best is reporting that a NJ trial court has denied a temporary
injunction requested by the NJ bar association.


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. "


Sunday, February 27, 2005

Debate arrives here

Good to see debate on both sides of the argument:

DDL talks about how the three strikes law benefits lawyers:

"Plaintiff Trial lawyers don't like trials. That's right. Why? because they lose most of them. What they do like is the unpredictibility of a trial. Sure they will lose most of them but they could win and win big. That makes defendants want to settle. Settlements are good. A lawyer is sure to get his paycheck in a settlement, but in a trial they will most likely have to eat their court costs.Three strikes law will encourage settlements. If you are a doctor getting sued do you want to risk losing your license? of course not. you settle. This will increase the numbers of malpractice suits filed in Florida. "

An anonymous user rebuts :

"Of course, the big difference between ddl's argument and mine is that if malpractice goes away, lawyers can always make money sueing tobacco companies. What are doctors going to do if lung disease, heart disease and obesity go away? Golf all the time?

The fact is that if you believe the insurance industry argument that medical malpractice claims are driving up medical malpractice insurance rates (a questionable argument), than it makes good sense to get the handful of doctors who are responsible for the vast majority of malpractice out of the risk pool. Here in Illinois, 3.6% of docs are responsible for 47% of malpractice cases, according to federal records."

Something that we lose sight of

I recently rewatched the PBS special on what it takes to become a physcian. Surely there are easier ways to feed the kids and payback loans (or avoid them in the first place!).

Here is a note from the producer of the series:
"Years ago, when I was trying to decide what to do with my life, two passions surfaced almost simultaneously: moviemaking and medicine. In my 20s and 30s, when things were not going well in the film business, I applied several times to medical school.

Making this series of films about medical training has made me realize how fortunate I was to be turned down! I now know that I would never have survived the course. Also, I've seen firsthand how potentially all-consuming of one's time medicine can be, and I'm sure I would never have been able to achieve a healthy balance between my work and non-work lives.

It is an extraordinary privilege to be a doctor, but that privilege comes at an extraordinary price. As Luanda Grazette, one of our seven students, puts it, "Medicine is only for those people who cannot contemplate doing anything else with their lives." "