Tuesday, October 05, 2010

An Ounce of Prevention

I have long said that the problem with malpractice is that there is too much of it. Measures to limit the size of settlements and to simplify the process of litigation may or may not be good ideas, but surely the best solution would be for the malpractice not to happen in the first place.

Apparently, others are beginning to share that view. A lead-in article in the September, 2010 issue of Health Affairs by Stephen Langel, Senior Editor, reports that the Obama administration last June awarded seven Medical Liability Reform and Patient Safety Demonstration Grants involving a total of $25 million. The article also quoted Nancy Ann DeParle, head of the White House Office of Health Reform, as saying in the context of tort reform that “The President’s preferred approach – preventive medicine to ward off lawsuits – had been part of his thinking for some time.”

Another article in the same issue of that journal estimates the annual cost of our medical liability system as $55.6 billion in 2008 dollars.

There is an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In relation to the size of the medical liability problem, $25 million scarcely qualifies as an ounce.

But it’s a start.

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