Monday, December 29, 2008

Reducing Preventable Errors Will Lower Malpractice Claims

USA Today's opinion blog editorializes that "Healthcare costs are out of control," but "that doesn't stop sensible physicians from shunning the sickest patients or ordering needless hospitalizations, drugs, tests, and invasive procedures." They contend "physicians practice 'defensive medicine' -- actions designed to protect themselves from lawsuits rather than serve patients' best interests" and that the cost of practicing defensive medicine costs the US "$60 million-plus, according to the Health and Human Services Department." USA Today argues that "change obviously is needed -- and aggressively resisted both by trial lawyers who profit from the system and by others who don't want to lose a deterrent to medical malpractice."

In response, Les Weisbrod, president of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), writes: "The field of medicine is filled with doctors devoted to improving lives and protecting patients. Trial attorneys also are passionately committed to these identical principles." In fact, "America's fair and open legal system helps injured people seek recourse, and leads to improved safety methods and standards." He argues that "98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors," and that "by reducing medical errors, fewer people will be injured, leading to fewer malpractice claims." He also notes that a study conducted by Harvard's School of Public Health "found 97 percent of medical malpractice claims had merit, proving only those with real injuries seek any recourse." Weisbrod concludes, "If we want to reform healthcare, reducing the 98,000 preventable deaths is where progress is desperately needed." Meanwhile, the US "legal system provides justice for deserving, injured individuals while holding wrongdoers accountable."

No comments: