Friday, August 17, 2007
Second, Lee Harris (Memphis, visiting at GW) has posted a draft article proposing tying liability modifications in medical malpractice to indicators of quality performance. The abstract:
The debate over limits on the amount injured patients can recover in a medical malpractice action is shrill. The debaters are uncompromising. On one side of the debate, trial lawyers, patient advocates, and the injured argue that liability caps are a scourge that creates a second harm to those who need compensation the most, the injured, and gives a protection to those who deserve it the least, the negligent or, worse, the reckless. On the other, hospitals, physicians, and defense lawyers argue that liability caps are a panacea, a good way to stanch the flow of increased medical costs from medical malpractice lawsuits and young physicians from high-risk medical practices. Is there a way out of this simple binary in which the players are either for liability caps or against?
This Article proposes one way to link the debate about medical liability caps explicitly to the debate about healthcare quality. Specifically, the article draws on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid regarding healthcare quality. To demonstrate application, the Article draws on a database of 21 quality measures of quality for four defined conditions, heart attack, heart failure, adult surgery, and pneumonia. The data is collected by most hospitals in the United States and maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The idea is straightforward. The Article proposes tying eligibility of medical malpractice caps to healthcare quality and performance based, initially, on these 21 measures.