Breath of Fresh Air in Tort Reform Fight
Ol’ Barry stirred the pot last week in his State of the Union Address. By mentioning med-mal, he’s got the politicians on both sides staking out the same old tired positions again.
For the GOP: Tort reform is the only way to save medicine. For Dems, tort reform hurts injured people. We’ve heard it all before.
So, I could have been knocked over with a feather when reading yesterday’s Boston Globe article on the issue. Down towards the bottom of the article the reporter included the viewpoint of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and, quite frankly, when I saw the quote attribution I was ready for a full dose of “tort reform is the only way, trial lawyers are evil, patients should be happy we take care of them regardless of the outcome, etc.”
But, here, instead is the quote:
“A serious national debate about medical liability reform is way overdue, said Dr. Alan Woodward, a past president of Massachusetts Medical Society and current vice chairman of the society’s committee on professional liability.
“The current system is profoundly dysfunctional,’’ he said, adding that courts are slow and inefficient — and often inequitable — to injured patients, and the liability system creates a “culture of fear’’ among doctors that drives up cost with defensive medicine.
Far better would be a system in use at the University of Michigan, he said, which requires full disclosure to patients who have been injured, along with “a sincere apology,’’ an explanation on how the mistake would not be repeated on anyone else, as well as an offer of compensation. The program dramatically reduced litigation, he said.”
Talk about a breath of fresh air! Hopefully more doctors will follow suit and say enough of the tort reform debate and start treating med-mal as a customer service issue they can solve on their own with disclosure and apology (instead of a legal debate for politicians.)