My USA Today column on why medical malpractice reform is needed

My latest USA Today column was published this morning: Any malpractice reforms should put patients first.

I discuss how the our medical malpractice system poorly compensates injured patients and is ineffective at improving medical practice. These are the most important reasons why malpractice reform is needed. And capping awards is not the answer:

Researchers found that the impact of frivolous lawsuits was limited. More concerning was that in one in six cases, patients injured from errors received no payment. Patients who did receive compensation waited an average of five years before their case was decided, with one-third of claims requiring six years or more to resolve. To make matters worse, 54 cents of every dollar that injured patients received were then used to pay legal and administrative fees. These costs do not justify this level of inefficiency.

Furthermore, medical malpractice cases do little to promote patient safety. Although medical errors account for close to 100,000 patient deaths annually, according to the Institute of Medicine, the majority are caused by failed systems or procedures — not physician negligence. Doctors and hospitals ideally should learn from mistakes in order to improve patient care, but that’s difficult to do when liability cases are resolved in an adversarial manner.

Enjoy the piece.

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