Forbes Magazine ran a thought-provoking piece on the real truth behind tort reform in the beginning of March. Here are some of the more telling highlights:
- 6%: the average return for medical malpractice carriers
- 1,000,000: estimated number of avoidable deaths in relation to medical negligence or malpractice each year, according to a 2011 study by HealthAffairs
- $400,000: the median amount of money awarded by a jury in a medical malpractice lawsuit. (The median is the middle number in a set, or the “center” number.)
What these numbers prove when taken in context is simple: that the only people who fare better because of tort reform are the insurance companies.
Not the doctors in tort-reformed states, who “prescribed just as many MRIs and CAT scans as doctors in the control states,” thus eliminating the argument that “defensive medicine” drives up costs, and whose “insurance premiums haven’t gone down” compared to doctors in other states.
Not the taxpayers, who are led to believe they are fronting the costs of “frivolous” lawsuits (which were never actually filed) with “lottery-size sums” (which are rarely awarded, and often have more to do with the cost of medical care – an area not covered by tort reform).
Certainly not the patients, whose access to justice has been limited by arbitrary rules imposed by legislators who spend more time with insurance company lobbyists than patient advocates – or whose recovery has been stifled because of pathetic stall tactics employed by those same insurance companies, thus imposing additional hardships on the victims and their families.
We are given few avenues to truly hold medical professionals accountable for the errors, the insurance companies are desperately trying to take away what vehicles we have left. The Forbes article cites changes in the field of anesthesiology, reporting that:
“[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][M]ajor reforms in anesthesiology in the 1980’s were the direct result of anesthesiologists’ frustration with many large malpractice verdicts against the specialty – and the attendant negative publicity. In response, anesthesiologists revamped their procedures, established mandatory monitoring, improved training, limited the number of hours anesthesiologists could work without rest, redesigned machines and outfitted others with safety devices. Within 10 years, the mortality rate from anesthesia dropped from 1 in 6000 administrations to 1 in 200,000. And anesthesiologists’ malpractice insurance rates fell to among the lowest of any specialty.” (Emphasis ours)
Tort reform allows dangerous hospitals and healthcare providers to carry on in the same ways they always have, because their insurance companies have made it virtually impossible to hold them accountable. Tort reform is not about protecting doctors: it is about protecting profits – the insurance companies’ profits. And if we continue to elect legislators who vote for tort reform, we may as well tell victims outright that their pain, suffering and loss do not matter.
Tort reform is dangerous to patients, to victims and to their families. At Crandall & Pera Law, we always fight on behalf of victims. If you are suffering, we want to be your advocates. Please contact one of our multiple office locations throughout Ohio and Kentucky to learn more about how[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]