Obama’s Already Made His Deal With the Doctors September 10, 2009

1219484_caduceusOne thing that I have noticed is that the fallout from President Obama’s speech has already begun as members of both parties begin to spin the speech. What is obvious, from Obama’s own words in his speech, is that he will pacify the doctors and look to take away our legal rights by insulating the medical community from their malpractice.

“I don’t believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs,” Obama said in his speech to the nation. I for one don’t understand what “defensive medicine” means. I understand that doctors are claiming that they order “unnecessary” tests in order to prevent lawsuits, that they will order a CT-scan instead of a simple x-ray. If that’s the case, I want defensive medicine to continue. I want the best medical care available to me and I don’t want doctors to play the odds or to make an economic decision about my treatment.

In order to win a malpractice case, you must prove that your doctor’s actions deviated from the generally accepted standards of care. To prove the standard of care, you will need a doctor to testify, as a medical expert, as to the standard of care. Its just about impossible to win a medical malpractice case unless you have that expert. Doctor’s blame plaintiff’s attorneys – but you can’t win a case without a doctor willing to testify against another doctor about what they did wrong.  

A non-defensive doctor might normally order an x-ray based upon his examination of a patient. A CT-scan would be a better diagnostic tool because an x-ray may not always find what is affecting the patient; however, the CT-scan may cost 10 times as much as the x-ray. In my opinion, the doctor performed a cost-benefit analysis on your medical care. The CT-scan was not worth the cost based on the likelihood of what was possibly affecting the patient. Although the CT-scan could have uncovered the ailment, the doctor didn’t feel the cost was worth a possible life-saving find.

Some doctors argue that the practice of defensive medicine is driving up the standard of care. Their argument is that medical care is getting too good which equates to “too expensive.” When a human life is involved, how can medical care be too good? Is the increase in available testing the result of increased costs or an evolution in medicine? Who is to say that a human being is not worthy of a test or exam? When today’s common medicines were first introduced, would their use at the time constitute “defensive medicine”? I think that a doctor should use the best medicine and equipment available, not defensively, but to ensure that a human life is saved and not to reduce healthcare costs.

But the president’s idea of reducing health care costs by cutting down on lawsuits isn’t the same as Republicans, who want to cap lawsuit damage awards. Instead, Obama plans to run with an idea left over from his predecessor’s administration and fund pilot projects in states that trumpet patient safety.

In one approach, the Department of Health and Human Services would fund projects aimed at limiting lawsuits by encouraging doctors and clinics to disclose accidents early and apologize to patients when appropriate.

Experts point to the University of Michigan Health Care system as a potential model. Malpractice claims in the system dropped by 55% between 1999 and 2006.

“If we make a mistake, we’ll move quickly to apologize and compensate that patient. But if we didn’t make a mistake, we talk to the patient and explain,” said Richard Boothman, chief risk officer for the University of Michigan system.

Unfortunately we now have to wait to see what the outcome will be of the behind the scenes dealing and political arm twisting. Will your constitutional rights be forever taken away or will medical professionals be held accountable for their actions?

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Frank Dito is a New York Personal Injury attorney specializing in New York real estate law , New York business law, and New York franchise law. You can visit his Law Firm Decker, Decker, Dito and Internicola website by clicking here, download his FREE New York Car Insurance book, or call him at 718-979-4300 or 1-800-310-5520 for a free case analysis.

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This post was written by Frank Dito on September 10, 2009
Posted Under: Tort Reform Tags: , , , ,
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