Thursday, March 17, 2011


It is always gratifying to see opinions in public print that agree with one’s own.

Last Sunday’s New York Times gave me that pleasure in an editorial commenting on an agreement that had been reached between the administration of recently elected Governor Cuomo on the one hand and, on the other, the state’s hospitals and the union that represents many of the hospitals’ workers. The agreement basically had to do with limiting Medicaid spending, but included a provision capping payments awarded for non-economic damage in malpractice lawsuits.

The editorial first expressed concern that the agreed-upon provision would “unfairly punish patients badly injured by medical negligence.” It went on to suggest the use of expert reviewers and specialized courts.

But then, much to my surprise and delight, it said “The best solution is to greatly reduce the errors and bad outcomes that can lead to malpractice suits.” It mentioned a “rigorous safety program” implemented in 2003 at the New-York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center that reduced the cost of malpractice in that institution by more than 90 per cent.

I have long argued that the problem with malpractice is that there is too much of it and that prevention would be the best solution. My position is supported by the savings experienced by New-York Presbyterian, which are is far and away greater than advocates of reforming the law could ever dream of.

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