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Tort reform issue heats up in health care debate

The move by Washington lawmakers and the White House to reform the nation's health care system has caused heated debates from the floor of Congress to town halls across the country. But while issues such as a proposed government-run health insurance option have dominated the debate, another issue - medical malpractice reform - went largely unaddressed. That is, until now.


  1. What the ‘reformers’ fail to mention is that hundreds of thousands of patients are victims of malpractice. Doctors, like all other professionals (including plumbers) make careless mistakes. When a plumber or lawyer makes a mistake it usually costs you money. When a medical doctor makes a careless mistake (i.e. violates the standard of care that doctors themselves establish)it can have catastrophic consequences. Besides needless death or serious physical impairment, med mal causes huge long term treatment and care costs, sometimes millions of dollars over a lifetime. If ‘reform’ limits a doctor’s liability, who will pick up the cost. Not the responsible party but no doubt will be shifted to the taxpayer. The only rational approach to limit med mal is to weed out the incompetents and an aggressive ‘zero tolerance’ for negligent conduct.

  2. Hunter Van Valkenburgh

    So if we eliminate patients’ and their families rights to sue doctors that kill or injure people, doctors will just do the minimum to get patients out of their offices, the cost of care will go down on average, and everyone will be better off because of lower insurance premiums and taxes. Problem solved, unless you are one of the patients killed or injured by a medical mistake. Extra tests won’t eliminate mistakes anyway. If a diagnosis is good, no further testing is necessary. If it is uncertain, the extra testing is for the patient’s benefit, or at least it should be. The “defensive medicine” argument is one mostly concocted by insurance companies who don’t want to pay more. For clinics and hospitals, who mostly get paid on a fee-for-service basis, the extra work is extra money in fees. What’s the problem?