Friday, November 27, 2009

Stats show that thousands of people die or are seriously impaired each year as a result of mistakes by doctors and hospitals. Isn't it fair that the victims of these errors, or their surviving family members, should be compensated? Presumably this system of medical malpractice claims not only provides fair compensation to people who have suffered, but it also makes health care providers take more care to avoid these tragic mistakes. On the other hand opponents of this system claim that the system increases health care costs for all of us by causing docs and hospitals to go overboard by ordering excessive and unnecessary tests. I was somewhat shocked while watching a panel on ESPN last night to see Howard Dean, the Democratic party leader, say that the only reason that Democrats oppose tort reform (laws to limit recovery by accident or malpractice victims) is that they are dependent on large political donations by trial lawyers. I am not sure of what the real answer is to this question, but I do know that in Texas, where there are severe limitations on medical malpractice claims, the insurance industry has not seen fit to offer lower premiums for malpractice insurance. I have also seen conflicting claims that studies have shown that the threat of malpractice claims either do, or do not, motivate health care providers to order excessive expensive testing. Which side of this debate is correct, I am not sure, but it is important that more surveys and studies be done to find out which is right. I suspect that an honest evaluation will reveal that the cost of compensating malpractice victims is a minor burden on the overall cost of health care.

Okay, so I don't really think that considering this question is a waste of your time, but I can't be held to be wasting your time all of the time!

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