No-go: Medical Malpractice 2006

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Buried in an Oregonian story about a new meth policy panel from the Oregon Medical Association, comes this news:

On liability reform, the doctors group has decided not to push for another ballot measure next year.

Voters narrowly defeated such a measure last November, after an expensive campaign. The constitutional amendment would have imposed a cap of $500,000 on jury awards for noneconomic damages in cases of medical negligence or recklessness.

Many doctors complain about rising malpractice insurance premiums and decry the current tort system, which they say encourages unnecessary tests and other "defensive medicine" procedures aimed more at preventing lawsuits than at helping patients.

But the association as a whole shows little appetite for mounting a repeat campaign so soon. ...

Such a campaign, he said, "would be billed as a doctors-versus-lawyers battle" unless businesses and large employers decide that it affects them, too, by raising costs and restricting access to care.

Missing in the article is any discussion of why the doctors continue to press for tort reform when their primary complaint is "rising malpractice insurance premiums".

Why not simply join the trial lawyers and push for a cap on malpractice insurance premiums?

  • Sid (unverified)

    I guess with Dr. Patel on the loose and all...

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    The real malpractice was the way Paul Phillips/Pacwest ran the docs' campaign.

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    Your solution is , as you put it, simple, and would make a lot more sense than their current efforts.

    Still, it's depressing that physicians should be as susceptible to mythology and conventional wisdom as any random group of third world peasants.

    One could imagine that a grouping of highly educated professionals would place some credibility on research of current insurance industry practices, profit margins, and actuarial decisions.

    The fact that they don't seem to understand who their real oppressors are does not make me want to rush out to my GP's office for a session of leeching and trepanning........

  • Kitty Crane (unverified)

    I am confused. Why would you be against tort reform, such as 'Loser pays winner legal fees'? Do you really believe there is no such thing as frivolus law suits, aka 'extortion'?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Kitty, Kitty, Kitty,

    The legal system is designed to expose and dismiss frivolous suits. It happens all the time. Tort "reform" such as "loser pays" are designed to keep the little folks from suing wealthy interests, plain and simple. Consumer advocacy attorneys usually take cases on continguancy. Their clients cannot afford legal fees if they do not win. "Loser pays" means no one without $ millions will run the risk of bringing suit. What we do not need is tilting the legal table in favor of those with the most assets.

    The Chamber of Commerce, AMA, Heritage, Cato, American Interprise, et al, have spent lots of time and lots of money trying to convince American that consumer advocates are bloodsuckers. It just ain't so.

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    A book recommendation: Four Trials, by John Edwards. (Yes, that John Edwards.)

    Anyone who is confused by the business of trial lawyers and consumer advocacy should read it. It's well-written, gripping story-telling, and outlines the issues well.

    (Or, if ya don't like readin' so much, go rent Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich and John Travolta in A Civil Action.)

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    Measure 35 - last year's medical malpractice initiative - would have done nothing to reduce "frivolous lawsuits." No new penalties, no three strikes you're out kind of thing, nothing.

    It would have done nothing to reduce insurance premiums, nothing to crack down on the handful of bad doctors who create the majority of ALL cases (see Dr. Patel AKA Dr. Death refence above).

    All it would have done is limit the jury rights of greviously injured patients.

    A better question would be, do you really believe there never has been, nor never will there be in the history of our state, a case of malpractice so heinous as to warrant more than $500,000 in non-economic damages? Are you so sure that you're willing to make that judgement for future victims before hearing the individual facts of their cases?

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