The Truth on Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform

Recently, the President’s idea of tort reform has created a heated debate. One editorial discusses the myths and facts of tort reform. President Obama continued to endorse conservative ideas such as efforts to prevent victims of medical malpractice from winning compensation in the civil justice system in his health care speech. In the speech he stated “that he wants to look to a ‘range of ideas’ to ‘put patient safety first and let doctors’ focus on practicing medicine.’ Obama says some in Congress believe medical malpractice reform can help bring down health care costs. Although he doesn’t consider it the ‘silver bullet’ he knows that doctors practicing what he terms defensive medicine can lead to unnecessary costs. The reality is that “few causes in the healthcare debate draw more support than tort reform, the idea of reining in frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. However, reliable reports estimate the costs of medical malpractice litigation at less than 2 percent of overall healthcare costs. There is also a pressing need for medical malpractice after a recent study highlighted the 98,000 deaths that occur each year by medical error. This is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Therefore it seems that legislators are giving the American public only some of the facts about medical malpractice.

It is also evident that medical malpractice caps are not working. Texas, the state with the most stringent caps on medical malpractice lawsuits, has the highest health care costs. In the end, a study in this state show that doctors are not ordering extra tests for feared of being sued, but rather to get paid more money. Instead of focusing on malpractice caps, let’s reform the way the doctors are compensated, so that wellness and preventive care is rewarded. This way we can work to reduce health problems and medical errors. To read the medical malpractice editorial, please click the link.

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