[PLUG-TALK] Malpractice (was Prescription Drugs)

Russell Senior seniorr at aracnet.com
Mon Sep 6 04:03:35 PDT 2004

>>>>> "Keith" == Keith Lofstrom <keithl at kl-ic.com> writes:

Keith> When you reward "victims", you create more victims.  

I think the word here is "compensate" rather than "reward".  I don't
think you'll find many people getting in line to have their operation
botched for the sake of any reward.

Keith> Yes, malpractice is a small part of total health care spending.
Keith> So is doctor compensation; perhaps 5% to 10%.  

Okay, then don't blame lawyers for driving up health care costs.

Maybe all the direct responsibility gets concentrated on the
physicians, but the normal thing to do in these cases is treat it as a
cost of doing business and build it into your rates.  If the physician
isn't being compensated adequately to cover their costs then they
should charge more.  Or if the malpractice insurance rates are
unreasonable, then get together with colleagues and form your own risk
pool.  Business types will always want you to be their slave.  Don't
let them.  This is normal piece-of-the-pie tug-of-war.  Physicians are
getting screwed.  Boo-hoo.  So are lots of people.  But don't blame
the people who _really_ get screwed.  Blame the people doing the
screwing.  Blame the people that constructed the system by which the
only compensation for medical errors is through malpractice claims.
If you think it is the fault of dumb juries, support education of
critical thinking skills so jury pools aren't filled with dumb people.
If you think it is the fault of juries filled with poor people who
sympathize with the poor patient, support policies that eliminate
poorness.  Don't "mask the symptom" by legislatively waving your hand
and pretending medical errors and their consequences don't exist

But if the total fraction of health care costs due to malpractice is
just 2%, and they are flat or declining, then something *else* is
responsible for 20% a year medical insurance inflation... like looting
by the insurance companies, excessive gatekeeping costs, etc.

Medical malpractice may very well be a significant and important issue
to physicians, but as a health care cost it is a red-herring, waved
around by the Republicans to distract voters and to enable continued

Russell Senior         ``I have nine fingers; you have ten.''
seniorr at aracnet.com

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