Opponents of Tort Reform claim that medical malpractice suits don’t constitute a big enough portion of the overall cost of medicine to justify their inclusion in a comprehensive healthcare reform package. Of course, those most vocally opposed are also those who stand to lose the most if Tort Reforms are put in place: Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers. Some may say that those crying out most loudly for Tort Reform are those who stand to gain the most. Doctors? Nope, not just doctors. EVERYone. Let’s take a look at the costs that Tort Reform would affect, the ones that Tort Reform opponents don’t mention when quoting percentages.
The judgments themselves are just the tip of the iceberg. Defending against a malpractice suit drains the doctor’s time and resources and distracts from caring for patients while in preparation for a trial. It saps time, energy and resources every single day.
Testing, redundant testing, the ludicrously high costs of medical malpractice insurance, “just in case” procedures, and now covering every possible alternative treatment, no matter how ridiculously unlikely it may be, (a future article will address more on that subject,) are all aspects of a doctor’s practice these days — and the majority of it has nothing at all to do with the quality of care a patient receives. Rather, these massive expenses, that we all pay for, are to keep a doctor out of the courtroom.
Why would a doctor need to worry about that? Because greedy plaintiff attorneys can, and do, prey upon doctors as if they were their own personal fatted calves. Many doctors suffer emotional upheaval and expense on mere allegation alone, and then must prove that they didn’t do anything wrong.
Tort Reform won’t make doctors impervious. It is no magic bullet. Rather, it would protect physicians from frivolous lawsuits, and approximately 80% of all cases filed are deemed meritless.
When we look at all the ways Tort Reform would trickle down, it amounts to a raging river of savings for patients and their insurance providers. So why isn’t it at the top of the list of changes to be made in Healthcare Reform? Mostly because the trial lawyers don’t want to lose their fatted calf. If Tort Reforms are enacted, they might actually have to go out and work for a living… and let doctors get back to taking care of the medical needs of their patients.