Law profs: "Medical malpractice reform can be unhealthy"
Ray De LorenziNovember 16, 2009 1:55 PM
“Congress has recognized that health care reform is long overdue. But dismantling the malpractice system should not be part of it.” This is the conclusion by Case Western law professors, Max Mehlman and Dale Nance, in an op-ed in Sunday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Mehlman and Nance write that not only do “malpractice premiums account for only a tiny fraction of our medical bills,” but also “any reduction in the risk of civil liability would remove a critical safety incentive.” They focus on what really needs to be discussed during this health care debate - improving patient safety and reducing medical errors.
Each year 98,000 people die - and countless others are injured - from preventable medical errors. “Reducing medical errors is crucial, but neither placing arbitrary limits on the size of awards nor replacing the current malpractice system with health courts is the answer,” say Mehlman and Nance. Restricting the legal rights of patients will do nothing to fix health care, and only make it harder for those injured through no fault of their own to seek recourse.
Marlyna Adams is one of those people injured by a medical error. In 2007, Merlyna - a school principal - experienced a sharp pain in her right side. The next day, her primary care doctor ordered a CT scan, which revealed that she had a 10mm kidney stone. Over the next few days, she was transferred to several different hospitals. At the fourth hospital, she remained in ICU for nearly three weeks. Her body developed sepsis, a complication caused by infection. She suffered congestive heart failure, renal failure and pulmonary failure. The restricted blood flow to her hands and feet required her to have both legs amputated below the knee and she lost both hands.
Watch her story below, and visit www.98000reasons.org to learn more.