Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Blame the lawyers.
Public concern about medical, surgical and diagnostic errors is high and many Americans have doubts about the ability of medical institutions to prevent these types of errors, according to the latest WSJ Online/Harris Interactive health poll.
Sixty-three percent of those polled say they are "extremely concerned" or "very concerned" about medication errors, such as receiving the wrong medicine, that can take place in a hospital. And more than half of respondents are extremely or very concerned about surgical errors.And the source of this problem? According to Vice-President Cheney (as reported by Ceci Connolly in today's Washington Post, and brought to my attention by former student Jonathan Childers):
"This problem doesn't start in the waiting room," Cheney said in remarks released by the campaign. "It doesn't start in the operating room. The problem starts in the courtroom."Here's the quote you will hear over and over again from the Administration between now and the November election: "When it comes to the legal crisis in American health care, the Kerry-Edwards ticket is on the side of personal-injury trial lawyers, and the Bush-Cheney ticket is on the side of doctors and patients." Easy on the ears, easy on the brain. Sure beats having an actual plan to deal with this country's health care problems, doesn't it?
With lawsuits on the rise and multimillion-dollar awards making headlines, physicians and many Republicans say limiting damages is the solution to the broader challenges confronting the U.S. health system. In their analysis, capping damages will lead to lower malpractice premiums, which will reduce doctors' use of unnecessary tests and procedures, known as defensive medicine. Those improvements will result in better care at a lower cost, enabling more people to buy coverage, they say.