In a recent opinion piece in Salon, Dr. Rahul Parikh summarized the tort “reformers” arguments which have been in the news lately. These argument about the so-called ‘lawsuit crisis’ are being put forth by insurance companies and the American Medical Association. Dr. Parikh carefully refutes each one by using the real facts. He then challenges physicians to focus on the real priority, patient safety. Instead of attacking lawyers who advocate for patients harmed by preventable errors, the resources should be focused on preventing the patient injuries in the first place. Here is the bottom line directly from his piece:
“Tort reformers neglect the fact that malpractice reform won’t save one extra life. To make that difference, insurers, doctors and their lobbyists like the AMA need to find ways to improve patient safety. So for those who push tort reform as a panacea for a sick health care system, working to prevent injuries is a much more noble pursuit than writing up baseless arguments for the back pages of a newspaper.”
Instead of focusing on limiting the rights of citizens who have valid claims for harm as a result of preventable errors in health care, we need to focus on how to stop the patients from being injured in the first place. This involves daily focus by doctors, nurses, and most of all the support and resources from hospital leadership.
I would love nothing more than to come to my office and have no calls from patients or their families after devastating medical errors. However, that is not the case. We are seeing more errors and more obvious preventable errors because the system is broken and there is often not accountability.