Tort reform discussions far too often center on talk about numbers: how many lawsuits are filed, what those suits costs, how much money insurance companies don’t want to pay, and similar figures. As has often been explained on this blog, there is nothing about those discussions that counsel toward any need for “reforming” the legal system available to victims of negligence.
Besides the unsubstantiated focus on the finances of the medical system, tort reform advocates typically ignore what is perhaps the biggest concern of all: the hundreds of thousands of family members killed by the mistakes of their medical providers. It is important to shift the debate back to what should be the most important mission: saving lives.
A new HealthGrades report is a helpful way of re-focusing on the need to limit medical mistakes and save patient lives. The new study includes information about patient safety rates among Medicare patients at nearly 5,000 hospitals. The comprehensive package includes individualized scores that are then analyzed with the goal of improving care at all facilities. For example, the highest performing hospitals are identified and then discussed in an attempt to isolate the “best practices” capable of saving lives-mentioning plans which should be followed by other facilities. In addition, trends are compared across different hospitals, with state specific results provided.
In Illinois 84 hospitals were analyzed. Of those, less than 12% were identified as a high-performing facility. That means that the vast majority of facilities in this area have the potential to make many changes to limit the number of Illinois medical errors. Insurance companies worried about limiting Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits would best spend resources by working to improving the care at those hospitals. As a comparison, our neighboring state of Iowa had nearly 42% of its eligible hospitals each the high-performing level.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti know that many area facilities fail to do all in their power to limit preventable errors. Many patients die and their families face unspeakable suffering because of these mistakes. The tort reform debate should never forget this bottom line. It is a shame that these victims are treated so cavalierly by “advocates” calling for their legal rights to be curtailed.
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