Those of us who oppose tort reform efforts often seem to be beating a dead horse when countering claims made by those proposing various forms of this legislation. When defending the rights of our clients, each Illinois medical malpractice lawyer at our firm seems to reiterate the same points over and over: the claimed benefits never materialize; the only beneficiaries are insurance companies/healthcare industry; the constitution guarantees the right to a civil trial; these efforts have serious adverse effects on patient safety.
Unfortunately, the stridency of those of us against these efforts often results in the details of the message being lost. Many community members have already “picked sides’ on this issue and so it is difficult to break through, reiterate new arguments, or otherwise fight efforts of those who make false proclamations about the merit and need for tort reform laws.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign of a break, however, involves the slow tide of “Conservatives” or at least those on the fence to finally challenge claims made by “reformers.” This is important because, unfortunately, it is very easy to write off the advocacy of Chicago medical malpractice lawyers. There is a false assumption that we work in this field, so obviously we will oppose these laws no matter how beneficial they are.
However, more and more on all sides are beginning to echo arguments we have been making. For example, a recent Health Finance News blog post included comments from a perspective that is not a hardened opponent reform. Instead, it shares the straight forward, basic idea that tort reform is overrated. It is a welcome perspective, and we can only hope that more will give honest thought to the reality of claims about tort reform.
The post notes that those pushing for the laws claims that medical malpractice lawsuits cause “over-utilization” of services as a result of defensive medicine which drives up costs. The “reform” is supposed to help this by easing the risk of malpractice, cutting off unnecessary medicine, and ultimately lowering healthcare costs.
It sounds nice, and it certainly convinces many to support these laws. But it is correct? Not at all.
As the post points out, the line of thinking is misleading for several reasons. For one, every thoughtful study on the issue has found that defensive medicine is not a driving factor (or even a nominally significant) factor in healthcare costs. On top of that, research shows that there is no connection to malpractice “reform” laws and defensive medicine. Malpractice lawsuits have declined steadily in recent years–as a result of stifling “reform”” laws in many places–without any tangible decrease in “defensive” medicine.
If there is a problem with defensive medicine then the cause it pretty clear–and it is surprising that it isn’t brought up more often–the pay-per-service culture of medicine. When doctors and hospitals receive payments for the specific services they perform (not outcomes), then it is pretty logical for those services to be increased to increase profits. After all, we have a private healthcare system and the goal of business is profit..
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