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President Obama needs the support of all of us in regard to the efforts by the insurance industry to sneak tort reform into the health care bill before Congress. No back room deals with the insurance industry will be tolerated by the vast majority of Americans who are clamoring for real health care reform and no Shibai!

Tort reform has no place in health care reform. Taking away the rights of patients injured by negligent doctors and hospitals will do nothing to improve health care and study after study has shown that tort reform will not lower doctor’s insurance costs. The biggest myth is the false claim that health care costs are driven up by defensive medicine _ doctors doing unnecessary medical tests to avoid frivolous lawsuits. When studies have been about those tests in states where tort reform has been passed, it turns out that the doctors and hospitals continue to do the tests. Why? Because they make money doing those tests. So leaving the 98,000 Americans who die each year due to negligent doctors and hospitals through preventable medical injuries without a remedy for their losses is un-American and just plain wrong.

You may be interested in reading the true facts about defensive medicine:

The Public Deserves The Truth About Lawsuit Abuse and Medical Malpractice – By Wayne Parsons, June 24, 2009 3:00 PM

Debunking the Myth on Defensive MedicineBy Cecelia Prewett, American Association of Justice (AAJ)

Not surprisingly the Honolulu Star Bulletin has taken up this false call for tort reform recently. That is consistent with the major media outlets siding with the insurance industry and ignoring the facts about health care and the basic American constitutional principle that for for every wrong there should be a remedy.

For more information go to the site for People over Profits where real facts are published and myths debunked. The Center For Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) led by legendary consumer advocate Joanne Doroshow is also a fabulous source for the real facts on these myths that major news media like the editors of the Honolulu Star Bulletin perpetuate on behalf of their friends in Big Insurance.

We must all tell President Obama and Congress not to tamper with the rights of injured patients to appease a greedy insurance industry that is, in fact, primarily responsible for the health care crisis of 98,000 deaths each year, many uninsured patients and doctors being gouged for their legitimate billings by insurance adjusters. I support the statement of Anthony Tarricone, President of the American Association of Justice in his communication today on the subject:

Washington, DC—“Any changes to the malpractice system must focus on patient safety and preventable medical errors, not limiting patients’ legal rights.

“The goals outlined by the White House – such as reducing the number of injuries, fostering better communication, compensating patients quicker, and reducing doctors’ premiums – move the debate in the right direction.

“However, 46 states have already enacted tort reform and health care costs continue to hurt the pocketbooks of American families. Because of these tort reforms, patients injured through no fault of their own are often unable to seek justice.

“It is critical that these demonstration projects preserve Americans’ 7th Amendment right to a trial by jury. The details matter significantly, but any efforts to limit patients’ rights are not acceptable. Promoting greater patient safety and reducing preventable medical errors are tenets doctors, attorneys, hospitals, and all Americans can support.”

### As the world’s largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit http://www.justice.org/newsroom.

97 Comments

  1. Gravatar for Mark Mann, MD

    I'm not sure which studies Mr. Parsons has been reading regarding defensive medicine, but I believe it has been demonstrated quite clearly that defensive medicine adds tremendously to costs. Also, it has been well established that good physicians are leaving the field, retiring early, or choosing different professions because of the way malpractice premiums have impacted a physician's ability to survive. We're not talking about one less European sports car here, in many cases, insurance premiums have literally placed a physician in the red. You use the term "neglegent doctors". You must understand that a very good doctor with a perfect track record is never more than one bad outcome away from losing everything, literally. It has happened in my home state. One jury award exceeding the typical coverage could potentially cost a doctor everything. Finally, understand that every suit that surfaces against a physician, even an excellent physician with a perfect track record, must be defended. It is expensive, anxiety provoking, and typically lasts years. To suggest that tort reform has no place in health care reform is not just naive, but suggests a symptom that our colleagues in behavioral science call "magical thinking".

  2. Gravatar for Kerry Willis

    Pretty funny stuff which claims imaginary studies that fly in the face of reality that demonstarted a decrease in insurance costs in Mississippi and Texas after Tort reform combined with a massive increase in numbers of physicians and a massive increase in access to care. Even funnier is using a reference written by himself and the Trial Lawyers professional association to support his assertions. The facts are we have to be able to pay for the care provided to people who don't have coverage now. Our choices are reduce the costs of defensive medicine whose costs represent a minimum of 30 billion dollars a year and as much as a hundred billion[meaning 300 billion to 1 trillion over ten years] or make no changes and ensure that costs will continue to rise out of control. Hmmmm provide people with healthcare without additional spending without any cuts to current programs or feed lawyers.....

  3. Gravatar for Kris

    Oh my god. Will you lawyers ever learn?

    Why don't you get a trial lawyer to go deliver your baby, perform brain surgery, and give your mom a hip replacement?

    Insane. What are you going to tell the pediatricians sued for 22 million or the OB/GYNS who CAN NOT practice because their insurance premiums = their salary.

    Without physicians, the world stops.

  4. Gravatar for Dr. YB

    ROTF- crying!

    If the topic weren't so serious, this article would be funny.

    Lawyers, like for profit insurance companies, are generally parasitic creatures.

    Dedicated medical/legal personnel in medical courts with the issue of sanctions against the doctor being separate from harm to the patient and compensation are the way to go.

    Lawyers are in no way interested in health reform as this would mean a serious "cut in pay". If you guys are so concerned about poor damaged patients, how about cutting your contingency fees to a flat rate, or 10% of the millions you like to go after?

    Didn't think so.

  5. Gravatar for Kris

    Look, I don't quarrel with cutting physician reimbursements to some degree, but its categorically UNFAIR to not limit their malpractice in that situation.

    Remember Nevada? Without tort reform, general surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons just LEFT the state, and almost left the only Level I trauma center in Las Vegas with NO SURGEONS.

    In an emergency situation, they passed a tort reform statue and the surgeons came back.

  6. Gravatar for Facebook User

    This article flies in the face of commonsense.

    1. "Tort reform has no place in health care reform. Taking away the rights of patients injured by negligent doctors and hospitals will do nothing to improve health care and study after study has shown that tort reform will not lower doctor's insurance costs."

    This is misleading and false.

    Tort reform is not about taking away the rights of patients to get compensated. Tort reform is the improvement of legalcare, the elimination of waste and legal greed, the protection of the defenseless be it plaintiff or defendant and returning to justice and fairness to all. Malicious, greedy or negligent lawyers do harm to many and they should be punished or censured or educated just the same as negligent doctors, store owners, or anyone who does their job badly and injures innocent victims.

    2. "The biggest myth is the false claim that health care costs are driven up by defensive medicine _ doctors doing unnecessary medical tests to avoid frivolous lawsuits."

    False

    If you stretch the imagination and truth and for the sake of argument agree that costs are not driven up by unnecessary tests, the troubling, "FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS", still looms large and is a fact of life which must be eliminated from our society.

    "It is one of the great weaknesses of reasonable men and women that they imagine that projects which fly in the face of commonsense are not serious or being seriously undertaken." -- Margaret Thatcher.

  7. J Kim offers a view of health care that could be a model for how the public and the major media like the Honolulu Star Bulletin should view a contentious issue. For people who don't know her, Janice Kim, aka "J Kim" is one of the great national advocates for common sense, justice and how to deal with an insurance company.

  8. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    What a interesting set of statements: There are a number of articles here at the Injuryboard that answer a number of the questions, but let's look at defensive medicine. The doctors get the money and as of yet have never sat down and given us a list of all of the unnecessary things they billed for. Nor have they told us how many times they did find something. Just blanket claims that there was all of these claims of when they billed HI companies for things they they never should have done. Because of these amounts they collected and this care they know they shouldn't have given they need relief.

    The relief they seek is to limit their responsibility to the patient. To arbitrarily put a number on the damage they cause. 250 is the number that they usually want to trade a child or a wife/husband or head of the household for. That by then allowing this cost benefit analysis on a human life the system will be better off.

    In Minnesota we have expert affidavits, no discovery rule, and no caps and at the same time low premiums, reduced claims and Excellent overall health care. I don't see doctors flocking out of here and the patients have rights. That seems to work.

    It's time to quit shilling for the Insurance companies. Many of the arguments to add tort reform are unsupported by the savings and in the end truly do hurt individual patients. Caps are unfair and they take responsibility away from the person at fault and place it on all of society. I'm sure it was fun for a couple of you to read from the Bush/Rove book of bash the lawyers, but it's time to get over that.

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