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I recently came across the following article,  “Coping with Medical Malpractice Insurance Rates

As with many of these articles they fail to link to the resources that formed their opinion and yet if one reads this article with an open mind, with a mind searching for the truth you have to question some of the statistics and opinions of the reader.

Let’s take each of the following statements separately.

But before we get to those statements I have one question surrounding pain and suffering based on an actual case. You are a woman that gets a biopsy for possible breast cancer. Your test gets mixed up and the lab reports back that you have cancer. You have your breasts removed only to find out several months later that the lab mixed up your test and you did not have breast cancer.

So what is your compensation other than pain and suffering. This mistake does not hinder your ability to work nor does it require life long medical care. I guess you would be compenstated 250,00 minus 20% lawyer fees and expenses. If the case is complicated your expenses will be very large which you will have to pay above and beyond the 20% the lawyer collects. (Don’t forget you are suing the insurance company with well paid corporate lawyers.)

I am interested in your take on the above or the statements below.

Let’s take the first statistic that seventy two percent of Americans support limiting the amount patients can be awarded for ‘pain and suffering’.

I have this question for those seventy two percent. Why do you keep awarding these high amounts then if you feel they are a problem? Or, maybe the 72% have not been on a jury. But, how is it then that those 72% can judge the opinion of the 28% if those 72% do not have all of the information to make judgement on each case? Are not those 28% who heard both sides in a better position to make a judgement?

Next, let’s look at the statement  that high med-mal awards force physicians to practice defensive medicine for fear of being sued. Let’s focus on the word fear for a moment though. Should fear be the basis for setting national policy? Maybe we should set national policy based on everyone’s fear. I fear global warming and I fear conservatives will take more liberties away from me even though they like to talk the talk of liberty. Is this fear backed by statistics and peer review?

If “only 2 to 3 percent of cases of medical negligence lead to a malpractice claim” how is this driving the fear? Maybe it is that 24 hours media that needs to hype things to get your attention?

This next statement really has me confused. “Defensive climate also impedes improvements in patient safety that both physicians and patients desire.”

So med-mal drives physicians to perform more tests and that does not increase patient safety? Fear of being sued forces a physician to order more tests and put in place more checks and balances and perhaps discuss risks with the patient and somehow that does not drive up patient safety. I am really confused on that statement because a recent study estimated “that only 2 to 3 percent of cases of medical negligence lead to a malpractice claim.”

In the statement below I have highlighted Texas  because Texas has the toughest tort reforms in the country with some very low caps on pain and suffering in place for the past decade. I will leave it at that because you are smart enough to figure this one out.

“The malpractice crisis — characterized by high or steeply rising premiums and scarcity of coverage — is a national problem, but several states have been especially hard hit in recent years. They include Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia. In those states, physicians in high-risk specialties such as obstetrics, neurosurgery and anesthesiology, among others, have seen their premiums increase by 35 percent or more in a single year.”

And this following statement about “the cyclic nature of insurance pricing is a factor as well.

On of the reasons offered for this  is that “when many companies are offering insurance, the competition for customers causes a ‘soft’ market, characterized by lower premiums. When insurers leave the market because of tough conditions or steep losses, the market hardens and premiums increase. In professional liability coverage, the permanent market departure in late 2001 of the largest U.S. medical malpractice insurer, The St. Paul Companies, has had a severe effect on both coverage availability and pricing.”

There is more to it than that and in fact insurance company investments may have more to do with it than any one factor.

And finally, Dr. Welch says, “the system as it’s currently structured does not necessarily provide appropriate remedy for injured patients, since only one in eight injured patients actually receives monetary compensation.” This is true because one in eight injured patients file a malpractice claim.

So let me get this straight.  One in eight injured patients actually receive monetary compensation and you are proposing that monetary compensation be capped and in some cases reduced? At 250,000 you will have to find a lawyer that can recover his expenses on complicated cases. Without a lawyer that can not recover their expenses good luck.

So where are the links to the resources that you used to form your opinion? I have trouble with some of those statements because they do not make sense using ones common sense.


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