Tort Reform & Medical Malpractice

Tort reform – or the reformation of civil wrongdoing – has been a popular topic for years. Within the medical field there are many different ideas of what tort reform might do.

One of the major goals of tort reform is to decrease insurance costs. There would be a reduction in general premiums based on limited exposure to liability – something it began doing in the mid-1980s.

Many in favor of tort reform feel that frivolous lawsuits are too commonly seen. By amending the rules on what’s considered a legitimate tort, court costs will decrease and a great deal of time will be saved. Additionally, a better use for juries will be found in other cases deemed legitimate.

What Are Some of the Reasons Doctors Are Sued?

In many situations, it may not necessarily be that a doctor made a mistake that resulted in the death of their patient. It might be that their work performance was considered subpar or negligent.

Apart from injury or death, the top reasons doctors have been sued for medical malpractice are postoperative infection, postponed or misdiagnosis of cancer, misdiagnosis of cardiac emergency, birth defects or fetal death, in-hospital infections, falls in hospital room, and medication errors. However, some doctors aren’t even aware of why they’re being sued.

What Are Some Drawbacks of Tort Reform?

So what are the potential issues that might stem from tort reform? First and foremost, for victims of medical malpractice, it can actually be much more difficult to file a lawsuit. More restrictions are put in place in an attempt to sift through the illegitimate claims. Victims then not only have to deal with the stress and repercussions of mistakes made, but they also have to work even harder to get the compensation they deserve.

As fewer juries are called upon and fewer cases are being heard, accountability of healthcare professional can decrease. It’s possible that even in situations where a doctor was actually at fault, because of the difficulty of filing a claim for a victim, the person at fault might walk free.

In turn, more cases of negligence could arise. Not all humans are good people – not all doctors are good doctors. It’s possible that in the worst-case scenario, a healthcare provider might realize the ease with which they can get away with malpractice with no consequences.

Final Thoughts

While there are pros and cons of tort reform in the case of medical malpractice, the issue is clearly not as cut-and-dry and many like to believe. Forgiveness can be a difficult process, especially when it relates directly to a person’s health and well-being – a life or death issue, for instance. A lack of tort reform, however, might mean that people who only claim to be victims will waste time and taxpayers’ dollars – not to mention risk the reputation of a good doctor – in an attempt to receive compensation they may not deserve.

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