Would changing medical malpractice law help patients?Do you believe that strict malpractice law reform will eventually benefit health care consumers (ie. patients) or will deter health care...

Would changing medical malpractice law help patients?

Do you believe that strict malpractice law reform will eventually benefit health care consumers (ie. patients) or will deter health care providers (ie. doctors and medical institutions) from delivering effective medical/surgical/dental/tertiary treatment. As we know the harsher the legislature passed on medical malpractice issues, the more defensive does the medical profession become, which means doctors eventually treat only low-risk patients and that they will also resort to plenty and often very expensive diagnostic evaluation and examinations  "just to be on the safe side". Sometimes they may even withhold effective therapeutic strategies if the patient behaves demanding and litigious, in case the therapy might not work 100%, fearing litigation.

Asked on by apnea

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dano7744's profile pic

dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Tort reform has been on the radar in many states as of late. But, no, I do not believe any reform in this area will have an effect on the type of care any patient receives. The chief issues regarding tort reform are ceilings on monetary awards in civil cases. Health care institutions and health care providers carry insurance to cover these costs'.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I really doubt doctors would withhold effective treatments for fear of being sued. After all, one could just as well sue them for withholding the treatment.  

I think that lower levels of liability for doctors might be good, but there still need to be mechanisms in place to ensure that doctors do not simply get away with it when they are negligent.

apnea's profile pic

apnea | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

In reply to #2 Part (2): We have anecdotal reports in literature of cancer patients receiving sub-optimum radiotherapy or chemotherapy because the oncologists were very much afraid that the post-radiotherapy side-effects might send them to trial. So the patients lived less (although with less adverse effects of radiation or of chemotherapy) and the physicians didn't have to worry about litigation. We have also heard of surgeons performing less radical operations in treating surgery patients (eg. in cancer surgery) in fear of the potentially higher risk of post-op complications. So they prefer to "leave a little cancer in" than to expand their operation to a radical one which harbours more side-effects and more litigation as a result. What might your reflections be on these VERY TRUE matters?

apnea's profile pic

apnea | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I really doubt doctors would withhold effective treatments for fear of being sued. After all, one could just as well sue them for withholding the treatment.  

I think that lower levels of liability for doctors might be good, but there still need to be mechanisms in place to ensure that doctors do not simply get away with it when they are negligent.

Part (1): Thank you for your speedy reply. In reference to "withholding effective treatment" I'm not implying that a physician won't dispense the correct treatment but that he will refrain from prescribing a stronger form of medication-even if it is believed to be more effective-if it carries a higher risk of unwanted side-effects (it is because these side-effects might send him to court more often then a long lasting case of an infectious disease treated with lower risk medications). It has been stated by many that often very competent doctors (especially surgeons) refrain from operating on patients who might benefit from their surgery (for instance eye surgery or cancer surgery) if they seem as high risk-cases (because of the foreseeable risk of possible complications). Often our insurance might not cover all the high-tech modalities our physician might order for diagnostic purposes in excess of those needed, as to be 110% sure of the diagnosis and of the cure's progression.

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