Monday, February 15, 2010

Tort reform might save me money, but will it save you any?

As a doctor I am all for limits on personal injury or tort reform. Limits may ultimately lead to reductions in my malpractice insurance. Good for me, but I don't think it is going to be as big a cost saver to the system as people think.

I agree tests and treatments are sometimes ordered frivolously, but that is not all because the doctor is scared of being sued. Well, maybe it is. But that fear comes from the general public's expectations and it's influence on standard of care.

For an example of this is look, what happened last year when a body looked at mammogram recommendations. When the group looked at the recommendations for how often screening should be done the whole country got in arms about possibly changing the recommendations. Because even if studies shows you have to screen 1000 extra people to catch one extra cancer (being facetious) society wants those screens. Nobody wants to be that one in a thousand who isn't caught.

Now in order for tort reform to be effective for the public, and not just for me, there would have to be reform in the practices of medicine. This would involve looking at standards of care to see the cost/benefit/risk ratio of doing certain test in certain situations, or when to or not to treat certain conditions. Sound like the "death panels" the dems were accused of creating, right? But how else are you going to change the culture in medicine?

The funny thing is when dems mention creating bodies to evaluate these risk/benefit ratio's they are called death panels. When repubs call for tort reform which will ultimately lead to the creation of the same panels they aren't death panels anymore.

I think we need to look at the overarching similarities between both sides proposals. Finding the commonalities between the two points of view should make it easier to find compromises--makes sense to me

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