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The Doctor Is In and He Says Tort Reform Isn't the Cure


Even doctors are starting to speak out about our insurance crisis. I recently read a post online by Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. that had me nodding my head. Dr. Parikh went straight to task and took on the proponents of "tort reform" (Crooked Justice) with the following line:

  • "There’s nothing "sure or quick" about changing medical liability laws that will improve healthcare or its costs. Defensive medicine adds very little to healthcare’s price tag, and rising malpractice premiums have had very little impact on access to care."

Why does he get it? It’s because he’s willing to look at the facts and put people first, not profit, not even his own profit. First, he noted that no matter how you look at it, malpractice lawsuits aren’t the major factor in rising health care costs. As Dr. Parikh put it:

  • malpractice costs account for less than 2 percent of healthcare spending. Saving 2 percent of the over $2 trillion we spend on healthcare isn’t going to bend the cost curve.

Second, malpractice lawsuits are not frivolous. By and large, if you’re willing (both as a client and a lawyer) to go through the incredible expense of suing a doctor or hospital, something truly significant has probably happened to you. Dr. Parikh reviewed a Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. He nails it on the head when he says:

  • Most of the suits were not frivolous: Almost two-thirds of cases involved errors by doctors.
  • Seventy-three percent of injuries in which a doctor committed an error resulted in payments. Seventy-two percent of cases in which there was an injury not due to physician error did not result in payment. Those conclusions do not paint the picture of a medical-legal system burdened by ambulance-chasing lawyers and their litigious clients.

Yes, that’s right. Lawsuits were more likely to result in payment when the doctor made an error. Lawsuits were more likely to result in no payment if there was no error. Where’s the frivolity? It’s PR propoganda.

What isn’t propoganda is the following. Tort reform will not save lives. Giving doctors and hospitals less incentive to improve practices and maintain care at high levels only puts us in jeopardy. Maybe that’s what the doc meant when he wrote:

  • So for those who push tort reform as a panacea for a sick healthcare system, working to prevent injuries is a much more noble pursuit than writing up baseless arguments for the back pages of a newspaper.


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  1. Steve Lombardi says:
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    David: I’m still wondering about this phenomenon called “defensive medicine”. What is it and where do I find some? Who is practicing it and I’m not referring to the alleged person but the real McCoy, Doctor McCoy. Who are these doctors practicing defensive medicine? If anyone can name them I will make that person wealthy, not just rich but filthy rich. If the insurance adjusters can check out there files, health and accident insurance adjuster files, for names, dates and services performed that were … well frivolously defensive … then we’ll need a Winnebago to haul the money we make on the Whistleblower action. Identify enough of this defensive medicine (unnecessary procedures) and we’ll need a mining truck like the Liebherr T 282B Mining Truck to haul our take of all this wasted government and insurance dollars. With 3,500 horsepower and 24-cylinders I’m guessing even an insurance adjuster or tort deformer will find it hard to imagine that much money. I’m excited, but getting less so since I posted this offer several times, the latest back on June 24th and still no one has brought me evidence of even a single case of actual “defensive medicine” being practiced. That’s depressing because Barbara has our bags packed for retirement but we can’t leave until we have all the names of defensive medical providers.

    Here let your insurance adjuster readers read this post to see exactly what I’m talking about.

    Part VI: I want to make ten tort reform minded people filthy rich. …
    Today I want to accomplish one of two things: 1. Either make all the tort reformers filthy rich; rich beyond their wildest dreams; or 2. Demonstrate a … 101k

    Follow the link to discover how I can make tort reformers filthy rich; rich beyond their wildest dreams. The offer is even good for the American Tort Reform Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce people. I’m an equal opportunity make-you-a-rich- tort-reformer lawyer! Since hearing about defensive medicine I’ve been specializing although I’m still waiting for my first client. I’m getting anxious because if the President gets health reform I’m fearful all the good defensive medicine cases will dry up. Have you seen any in Michigan? I haven’t seen a single one in Iowa. I wonder if Mike Bryant has seen any in Minnesota. Wayne do you have any in Hawaii? Pierce what about in North Carolina? Anyone?

    Maybe this isn’t a growth area of civil torts? Ya think?


    Here is how all tort reformers with fraud information about defensive medicine will be able to contact me: Steve Lombardi, Lombardi Law Firm, 4200 Corporate Drive, Suite 112, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266 – 515-222-1110. Please don’t call all at once, because we have only three phone lines.

    Perhaps “defensive medicine” is … inconceivable!


  2. Mike Bryant says:
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    Nope, not so far Steve. But, if you assume they are doing this defensive medicine to protect themselves, how will tort reform make them more honest or stop protecting themselves. I also wonder if they tell the person that they did the defensive medicine on, “Gee, you are lucky when I was protecting myself, I found that tumor” oh and here’s the bill.

  3. John Hopkins says:
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    I think one of the scarier part of the tort reform arguments being used by doctors is, in fact, the “defensive medicine” argument. Based on most descriptions, if I am being treated by a doctor, I think I WANT him or her to practice “defensive medicine”. The descriptions simply sound like the practice of “good medicine”. I am happy to see a physician who is being honest about the subject.

    Good post. Thanks.