Several years ago, the Office of Management and Budget published data showing that the costs associated with medical negligence litigation are shrinking, not growing, and constitute a negligible portion of the total healthcare budget. Nonetheless, insurers, whose out-of-control profit margins are the main contributor to runaway healthcare costs, continue to beat this drum. It may be easy to “blame the lawyers” for a broken system, but it isn’t right. For an update on the real facts, click here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/what-the-business-roundtable-knows-about-american-health-care/2011/08/25/gIQAWyAeuR_blog.html.
While insurers continue to gouge consumers, 45 million Americans remain without access to healthcare, the U.S. ranks a dismal 37th worldwide in quality of healthcare and the Institute of Medicine reported that about 100,000 Americans die every year due to medical negligence. Before the insurance industry begins blaming lawyers for the cost of medical negligence litigation, they should rightfully calculate and publish the costs of medical negligence in terms of monumental medical bills from extended hospital bills, lost income for injury victims and other such costs.
Likewise, the healthcare industry has never published the costs of medical negligence. Could it be that there is no financial incentive to improve the quality of care because doctors and hospitals literally profit from their mistakes? Doctors are all too eager to push for tort reform, even though it is unfair and unnecessary, but why don’t they push for reform of dangerous hospital and physician practices that lead to surgical errors, birth injuries, pharmacy errors, etc.? In fact, the rate of medical errors has not improved despite studies showing that errors are epidemic. The national debate should shift away from blaming attorneys for harm caused by healthcare providers and penalizing victims through tort reform, to addressing the real causes of escalating healthcare costs.