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Shapiro & Appleton

Medical Malpractice Crisis a Well Orchestrated Hoax

Posted on Jan 24, 2007
BY: James C. Lewis, HSCLA Attorney The consumer advocacy group, Public Citizens Congress Watch, has published the results of an extensive study of the medical malpractice system in America in January 2007. Not surprisingly, the results of this study clearly demonstrate that claims by big business and the Republican Administration that our medical malpractice system is running good doctors out of business and causing increases in malpractice premiums are simply not true. In his 2006 State of the Union address, the President called on Congress to restrict patient access to the courts because lawsuits were driving too many good doctors out of practice. However, according to statistics published by the AMA, the number of practicing physicians in America is growing faster than our population. The Administration likewise claimed that medical malpractice lawsuits send physicians’ malpractice insurance premiums “skyrocketing”. However, recent reports reveal that medical malpractice insurers are making huge profits. For instance, in Florida, the Office of Insurance Regulation reported that the 15 largest medical malpractice insurers saw profits of $803 million in 2005. It is clear that this call for limits on the ability of injured patients to seek redress for medical malpractice claims in court is just one piece of a larger effort by the business lobby to protect businesses from being held accountable when someone is recklessly or negligently hurt. Public Citizens Congress Watch recently analyzed the publicly available data from the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Overall, the NPDB information shows that the Administration is misdiagnosing the health care problem. An analysis of the available information indicates that the court-based compensation system, is, on the whole, a rational one that provides money for valid claims and dismisses invalid ones. These findings are confirmed by other research, including a recent study conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, in which authors found that claims that our malpractice system is infected with frivolous litigation is overblown. In sum, an agenda that blames injured patients and seeks to close access to the courts, contributing to a constitutional right that we all enjoy, is about protecting business profits over patient health. It is far past time for real health care reform, and for a health care system that puts patient safety first, not corporate profits.
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