HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Medical Malpractice Reform

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog notes a potential stumbling block on the road to health reform - medical malpractice reform.  Sarah Rubenstein writes,

The issue of medical malpractice lawsuits is among the touchiest in the debate over rising health-care costs. Doctors are burdened by the high cost of malpractice insurance and say they’re forced to practice “defensive” medicine, while lawyers say the suits are a check in the system meant to protect patients. The debate has been relatively quiet in recent months, but it’s now rising to the surface, Politico reports

Trial lawyers plan to distribute a 29-page research document saying the suits aren’t behind the rising cost of care, Politico says. Meantime, the American Medical Association is saying it can’t see how a health-reform bill would control costs without tort-reform measures in it. . . .

President Obama and other Democrats are signaling they’re open to some changes, though the details aren’t clear. Take a look at a perspective piece that Obama co-wrote with Hillary Clinton a few years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their recommendation: “Instead of focusing on the few areas of intense disagreement, such as the possibility of mandating caps on the financial damages awarded to patients, we believe that the discussion should center on a more fundamental issue: the need to improve patient safety.” . . .

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