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American Association for Justice Responds to Misguided Op-Ed on Medical Malpractice

An opinion editorial recently in the New York Times suggested increasing ways to immunize doctors for malpractice liability. However, the respected economist’s article missed a few major points concerning the legal issues surrounding the health and well-being of injured patients. The AAJ penned a response to the editorial to highlight those discrepancies and omissions.

First, the AAJ noted that it is impractical to craft specific guidelines to keep some doctors free from liability for the medical mistakes that they make. As with all additional layers of beuracracy, piling new guidelines on top of existing regimes typically takes years to create and rarely have beneficial effects upon their implementation. Besides that, standards vary significantly in different areas and often need to remain flexible to account for the supreme goal: the proper care of the patient.

Second, cries for immunity simply ignore the very real and growing problem of medical errors that continue to poison our health-care system. With a death toll reaching toward 100,000 each year and a cost of $29 billion annually, focus needs to return on eliminating mistakes not making excuses for them.

Third, the current legal framework allows for significant immunity in that states with medical caps virtually forbid certain patient victims from having any sort of legal recourse at all. An additional barrier to victim recovery is unwarranted.

Finally, these proposed changes would do little to nothing to reduce the cost of health care. As damage caps have shown, these sort of arbitrary barriers to recovery have not been shown to produce monetary savings. Instead they only stack the odds even more against victims’ ability to seek redress following their suffering.

Medical malpractice is obviously a stark problem that requires focused attention and original thinking. However, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti strongly believe that the attention needs to be paid on making changes that improve the quality of care, not put barriers up against the victims of the errors.