Monday, February 14, 2011

Another editorial on med mal reform

Joanne Doroshow (of the Center for Justice and Democracy) has published an editorial on medical malpractice reform that is worth reading (here). Among other things, she reminds us about something I have argued in this blog repeatedly: that the attempt to federalize state medical malpractice laws has really nothing to do with "frivolous" medical malpractice lawsuits. We keep hearing that there is a need to stop "frivolous lawsuits." But here is the thing: that is something we all agree on. I have never heard of anyone out there saying "we should keep the right to file frivolous lawsuits." You know why? Because there is no such right and because there are plenty of protections in place to prevent such lawsuits - not the least important of which is that lawyers are sanctioned personally (monetary sanctions to be paid out of the lawyers' own pockets) when they do file frivolous lawsuits. Make no mistake about it, measures like the med-mal statute under review in Congress (and many states) are not designed to stop frivolous lawsuits. They are designed to stop, or at least limit, valid lawsuits. Those are the ones that insurance companies want to eliminate. Those are the ones that cost them money! As Ms. Doroshow argues, "bills like H.R. 5, which propose "caps" on non-economic (i.e. quality of life) compensation, have nothing to do with "frivolous" lawsuits. They hurt only the most seriously injured patients, who have already proven a hospital or doctor's negligence. There is nothing frivolous about those cases." For my comments on the House bill go here.

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