The American Association for Justice has published a useful primer for understanding our nation’s health care debate. As reforming our country’s health care system will be a major agenda item for the new Congress and administration, we need to be tuned in to the cost of health care and the driving forces behind the debate. In years past, there has been a lot of focus on restricting patients’ rights to hold negligent medical providers accountable for medical malpractice, but little focus on actually reducing and eliminating preventable medical errors. In part, this is due to the exploitation of the medical negligence “crisis” by interest groups with agendas to push.
Preventable medical errors – medical malpractice – kill and seriously injure hundreds of thousands of Americans yearly. If the Centers for Disease Control were to include preventable medical errors as a category, it would be the sixth leading cause of death in the United States of America. Nonetheless, the debate surrounding the medical negligence policy debate has revolved around other extraneous factors, such as doctors’ insurance premiums. Thus, the discussion has essentially ignored the fundamental problem. Preventing medical errors will dramatically lower health care costs, reduce doctors’ insurance premiums, and protect the health and well-being of patients.
Contrary to what Fox News and other exploiting companies want you to believe, few injured patients ever file medical negligence lawsuits and fewer still file frivolous claims. 70 percent of patients who experience medical errors are not told by their doctors; nearly one half of the nation’s doctors admit to not reporting incompetence or medical errors.