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The American Association for Justice is getting an important message across by advertising in Union Station throughout December. Blanketing the metro station’s walls, the message reads “98,000 patients may die annually from medical errors…That’s like 737s crashing every day for a whole year…Tort law won’t fix health care…Tell Congress to put patients first.” The message is meant to counter Republican attacks against healthcare reform legislation: Republicans and health insurance companies have rallied for putting limits on medical liability lawsuit awards, claiming that tort reform is the answer to the escalating costs of private health care insurance.

Union Station is one of most highly-trafficked areas for commuters travelling to our nation’s capital. The American Association for Justice specifically wants to remind Senate staffers that many people die of medical errors, and will be left with no recourse if Republicans have their way with tort reform.

As the American Association for Justice so aptly states, “health care reform is about making sure that every American has access to quality, low-cost healthcare, not about limiting the rights of innocent patients harmed by medical negligence.” Despite the opposition’s arguments, tort reform would do very little in reducing current health care costs. In fact:

· Medical malpractice is a tiny percentage of health care costs – less than one and a half percent of overall spending – according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Restricting patients’ legal rights would have little to no effect on premiums or health care costs.

· Medical malpractice suits are less than one percent of the entire civil caseload, and have been declining for nearly a decade.

· The GAO and CBO have found no evidence of so-called “defensive medicine,” instead determining that doctors run additional tests to generate more income or help diagnose patients.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claims
    Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claims

    98,000 yearly med mal deaths? Really? How many turn into lawsuits? Not many. Wouldnt every grieving family look for an attorney? Do you really believe this number. A bad guess at best.

    You look at the effect of med mal on healthcare costs. It should be the other way around. If HC was less expensive, Better staffing could be available. Staffing and fatigue causes more injuries that anything else that I have seen in 26 years of adjusting med mal claims.

    Consider the defensive medicine arguments. Nobody would care about extra testing if it wasnt so unnecessarily cost prohibitive. Fix the HC companies license to steal by preventing competition, and see what happens to med mal.

    Med mal and healthcare are independant problems that both need fixes. The relationship between them is more casual that critical.

    regards jim

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