Some people, including the insurance industry and many doctors, feel that the reason healthcare costs are rising is because of medical malpractice lawsuits and runaway jury verdicts. This is part of the rhetoric on tort reform that is bandied about usually during election time. But consider some of the following findings.
First, the Congressional Budget Office recently found no evidence that defensive medicine is practiced in for-profit, managed care programs where gatekeepers limit unnecessary tests. In other words, the argument that doctors have to run unnecessary tests for defensive purposes to prevent themselves from being sued has no merit.
Dennis Feeley, a lawyer with the law firm of Cohen & Feeley of Bethlehem, PA, writes that medical errors, waste and other abuses are rampant under Medicare.
A new study by the Department of Health and Human Services reports one in seven hospitalized Medicare patients are harmed by treatment mistakes that lead to 180,000 deaths annually. Feeley points out that if every possible tort reform were enacted that you hear about on TV or radio, the savings realized would amount toonly 2% of the total healthcare expenditures. The real culprit appears to be serious and fatal medical errors that lead to deaths.
In other words, medical malpractice.
In Western Pennsylvania several years ago, there was a huge public relations campaign indicating that doctors were fleeing the State of Pennsylvania because of the high cost of medical malpractice insurance. However, the proof of that fact was extremely vague. The Pennsylvania Courts also stepped in to deal with this potential issue. The Courts now require a plaintiff to file a Certificate of Merit before any medical malpractice lawsuit can proceed in Pennsylvania. In other words, an attorney cannot just file a lawsuit against a doctor or hospital anymore without having a report from an expert stating that, in their opinion, the doctor or hospital in question committed medical malpractice.
In our opinion, medical malpractice lawsuits help patients and consumers because it helps to insure against sloppy, catastrophic medical errors by doctors and hospitals. What do you think about this issue? Please, we welcome your comments. I really want to hear from you…