Medical Malpractice Aches and Pains
problems arise when patients, doctors, lawyers,
the function of health professionals, especially doctors,
Now, the patient and her family with total income of, for example, $30,000.00/yr files a suit for $50,000,000.00, which is much in excess of what they would ever expect to make. The jury, taken aback by the dramatic story and the persuasiveness of the trial lawyer, awards the huge reimbursement to the family (its not the shirt off their skin!). The plaintiff gets her money and 30% goes to the lawyer, deservedly or not. This drives the cost of insurance affecting all doctors, most of whom may have been hard working and honest practitioners. Of course, the companies offering malpractice insurance are not charitable organizations either (as they possibly should). They are here to make a profit, and the huge jury awards give them an excuse to jack up the premiums well beyond the reasonable limits.The doctors leave town
Another cost (if not corners) cutting measure was to hire 25% foreign doctors in the hospital residency programs. These doctors were expected to leave the country after completing their training. The training concept is frequently used to hire cheap and expandable labor. And, of course, the nurse practitioners, the physicians assistants are recently created professions designed to cut the expense of treating the patient at the expense of the quality of care.
In essence, we are dealing here with laws of the jungle nature rules supreme. In a civilized society though, apart from the effective regulations, we have right to expect to, and rely on ethical conduct of the involved parties. Maybe a little bit a preaching and repetitive moralizing on moderation would help? Or, do we have to go thru a roller coaster of fall and redemption?
Imposing a cap on pain and suffering should not be overlooked either. Could some simple cases be handled by caseworkers following a preset fee-schedule? And should the jury be allowed to award someone elses money or just determine the liability and have the awards made based on overall availability of funds set for this purpose and the number of expected cases calculated statistically? Ultimately, an uninvolved and impartial party may act in a preventive manner by consulting both the patient and doctors of the available treatment options.
(© Adam Zynger)