Sounds like the opening line of a joke, doesn’t it?

But what’s the punch line?

There isn’t one. It just doesn’t happen. At least it didn’t used to. Doctors have always been far more compassionate than their patients in that regard. But with the way things are going with Healthcare Reform, you can count on things being different. If tort reform isn’t included, the doctors will be left with no choice but to fight back, or find a different profession.

Everyone would be better off if a different future were to unfold:

A lawyer calls the plumber because a faucet in his bathroom is leaking. The plumber arrives, carrying a box of tools under his arm. Twenty minutes later, the leak is fixed, and the plumber presents the attorney with his bill.

“Two hundred dollars!” the attorney exclaims, “I’m a medical malpractice lawyer, and I don’t make that kind of money!”

“Neither did I,” the plumber replies, “when I was a medical malpractice attorney.”

More than a few of those who are opposed to the proposed healthcare reform measures, feel that there will not be enough physicians to take care of all of the patients, if universal coverage is enacted. Without tort reforms, many physicians may find that it’s simply not worth the cost or aggravation to try to help people. One doctor comes to mind who has an active, bustling practice. Once all the bills and staff were paid, she netted $20,000 last year. Who would go through college, med school, residency, incurring all those expenses and debts, for 25% over minimum wage? That’s right — $20k is about $10 an hour! Three guesses where a good chunk of the money went to? You guessed it — medical malpractice insurance! And you don’t even want to think about how much of the price of your office visit was spent in the name of defensive medicine. It’s a foregone conclusion that if tort reform isn’t enacted, if frivolous lawsuits aren’t taken in hand and brought under control, there will be more than a few healers ready to don a paper hat and ask if you’d like fries with your burger and shake.

Did you hear the one about the doctor who sued the patient? No? Not yet? Well you will, very soon… but it won’t be funny. The fight against malpractice fraud is no laughing matter.