The elephant in the room… tort reform

Our president explains that one of the problems with our current health care system, which he intends to correct with Obamacare, is “unnecessary testing”. He believes, and, I suspect many do, that these “unnecessary tests” simply drive up the cost of health care, and have no real benefit to anyone other than the folks who administer the tests.

So, I thought I would first focus on that concept.  What is an “unnecessary test”?   As we have received no guidance from our president on that score, we are left only to guess.

All I can do is give you my own personal experience.  My doctor orders a mammogram once a year.  So far, those tests have come out negative.  Does that mean that my yearly mammograms were “unnecessary”?

I suppose that I could tell my doctor that since the ordered tests have been negative in the past, my money is simply being wasted on “unnecessary testing”.  But, before I do so, let me first put on my “attorney” hat, and, simultaneously, try to put myself in my doctor’s shoes.

As a trial attorney I say, doctor, why didn’t you test my client’s spouse for ________.  It was a simple, relatively inexpensive test, and had you so tested, my client’s spouse would be alive today.  As the doctor I say, I had absolutely no reason to test for _________.  Your client’s spouse’s medical history showed no signs of that being an issue, so I saw no reason to put your client’s spouse to the expense of that test.

Who wins before a jury in this tug of war?  The grieving spouse, of course.

There are two logical results from that jury verdict.  First, medical malpractice insurance premiums rise.  Some doctors already pay in excess of $100,000 per year for such insurance, and, that cost is passed on to you in ever increasing fees for medical care.  Second, the doctor who lost the trial I refer to above, will now begin testing for _______ in all of his or her patients, as will that doctor’s colleagues.

Mr. President, you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t tell doctors that many prescribed tests are “unnecessary”, and, at the same time continue to expose those doctors to liability for failure to order those “unnecessary” tests.  And, you can’t reform health care without reforming all components of health care, and, medical malpractice law suits are not only a component, but a large component.

Mr. President, will you and Congress take on the American Bar Association by proposing sensible medical malpractice tort reform?

I think not.

2 replies
  1. Lazybum
    Lazybum says:

    SOS- what brave soul in congress will lead this lonely fight into the wilderness? None that I can think of.

    We will likely see SS reform first.

  2. Lazybum
    Lazybum says:

    I wrote the following to each of my senators and my rep. I would encourage you to send your questions and concerns as well.

    Dear Sir:

    3 items:

    1-will you be participating in the socialized health care you are supporting? If not, why?

    2-Will the person that reads and sends a form letter to me even though I will be requesting a straight answer be participating in the socialized health care you are advocating?

    3-Have you read the bill? Either way I would like to know why you would do this to the country I love.

    Please either respond directly to these questions or do not waste my time with a form letter.

    We must keep their feet to the fire and make it a matter of record what these fools are doing to our country.

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