A frivolous medical malpractice suit, one that lacks merit, places a huge burden upon a physician, distracting the doctor from the job of caring for patients and directly affecting many people on a daily basis.

We agree that if a mistake is made the patient should be justly compensated. However, baseless lawsuits hurt us all. When a patient files a medical malpractice suit, the physician and his staff must provide records and proofs to demonstrate the facts to the court. These actions take them away from their real jobs – attending to patients’ needs. The doctor and staff’s time are compromised; just one way in which a frivolous suit hurts many people needlessly.

A more serious result of frivolous lawsuits is unnecessary testing (read defensive medicine) — a burden which, like everything else, society as a whole pays for. Patients would do well to remember that those lawyer-mandated extra tests are going cost you (and the rest of us,) whether you pay for them directly out of pocket or your insurance company foots the bill. Moreover, while physicians do everything reasonably possible to limit the risks, any invasive test (including drawing blood) incurs some risk to the patient, if only by some slight margin. Bluntly stated, doctors should prescribe medicine as their knowledge and acceptable standards of practice dictate, not as legal threats demand.

The price of these unfair allegations are paid by us all. As we consider healthcare reform, let us also consider ways in which to reduce these unnecessary and unjust costs. We will all be better off if we do.