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The Five Myths of Medical Malpractice
Advocates of so-called “tort reform” are at it again. Besides the usual filing of legislation in the Missouri legislature, advocates have taken to the newspaper, writing “letters to the editor” demanding more legislation to deal with the “problem” of injured people using the judicial system to address harms and losses caused to them and members of their families by negligent physicians, nurses and health care providers.
According to them, physicians are fleeing Missouri to practice in states with atmospheres that protect them from litigation resulting from medical errors.
But, as John Adams reminded Boston jurors nearly 250 years ago while defending the British soldiers who participated in the Boston Massacre, “Facts are hard things.”
Two researchers recently published the results of their study of the “hard facts” about medical malpractice in the January 2013 issue of CHEST, the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. Titled “The Five Myths of Medical Malpractice,” the study identifies five famous myths and then debunks them with real facts. The five myths debunked by Dr. David Hyman and Charles Silver in the study are:
(1) malpractice crises are caused by spikes in medical malpractice litigation (sudden rises in payouts and claim frequency); (2) the tort system delivers “jackpot justice”; (3) physicians are one malpractice verdict away from bankruptcy; (4) physicians move to states that adopt damage caps; and (5) tort reform will lower healthcare spending dramatically.
The last paragraph of the study reports that mandated caps on medical malpractice damages “do little to improve the malpractice system…they do not make health care safer, reduce health care spending, compensate those who are negligently injured, or make the liability system work better.” Hyman and Silver conclude by stating that the best reforms in medicine are, “patient safety initiatives that reduce the frequency and severity of medical mistakes.”
As an aside, it must be noted that doctors are not fleeing Missouri. In fact, Missouri doctors have steadily increased over the past four decades (in both actual numbers and relative to the population). That fact is indisputable, according to both the American Medical Association’s authoritative annual compendium as well as annual statistics compiled by and published by the Missouri Department of Insurance.
Injured patients who bring a lawsuit against their physician or hospital (and the lawyers that represent them) are held to strict proof by the courts and the juries that hear their claims. They should be. And the advocates of “tort reform” must be held to strict proof, too.
After all, “Facts are hard things.”
|For Your Information|
Casey & Devoti Supports Local Organizations
Casey & Devoti recently agreed to sponsor “The Wine Opener” event, hosted by the St. Louis chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The fund-raising event will include tasting stations that feature wines from both international and domestic wineries as well as food prepared by local chefs. This year’s event will be in the City Hall rotunda in downtown St. Louis on Sept. 21. The Gateway Chapter hopes to have more than 300 people attend its 11th annual “Wine Opener” this year.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting children and young adults. A defective gene causes the body to produce abnormally thick, sticky mucous. This abnormal mucous leads to chronic and fatal lung infections and impairs digestion. Currently, there is no cure for the 30,000 people afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis in the United States.
Interested in attending “The Wine Opener” or learning more about Cystic Fibrosis? You may contact the national organization at www.cff.org or reach out to the local chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org and (314) 733-1241. Please also feel free to call Matt Devoti for directions on how to purchase tickets to the event.
In related news, Casey & Devoti also recently agreed to underwrite the efforts of a local women’s shelter care program to update its website. The firm is working with Claris Law in an effort to help the shelter — St. Martha’s Hall — strengthen its Internet presence.
St. Martha’s Hall is coordinating with Claris Law to modernize its website, including the engineering of the site to permit the posting of up-to-date information to educate and inform the shelter’s benefactors and supporters throughout the community about the presence of domestic violence in our community as well as opportunities to financially assist the program.
St. Martha’s Hall is a not-for-profit agency that provides a shelter care program for abused women and their children. Its mission is to help abused women and their children break the cycle of violence in their lives by offering an immediate, confidential place for the abused women and their children to live as well as a supportive environment emphasizing peer support and a self-help philosophy.
Matt Devoti serves as a member of the board of directors of St. Martha’s Hall. For more information about St. Martha’s Hall and the services it offers, visit www.saintmarthas.org.