Friday, January 03, 2003

Right Wing News (who, incidentally, named Viking Pundit the "Website of the Day" today – thanks John!) has an incisive comment from a "disgruntled doctor" in response to the story about doctors walking off the job in protest of exploding malpractice insurance costs. The wing-nut prattle of Helen Thomas aside, his comments provide a real insight into the anger of doctors and the reasons for spiraling health care costs:

You have no idea! As a doctor who teaches medical students, interns and residents, we often sit together and talk about how much cheaper (and better) we could treat our patients if we could treat them, like we would treat our own family. We would order fewer tests, prescribe a lot fewer medications, and suggest a whole lot less surgery. Why do we do all of these things? Because if we do the tests, give the medications, and suggest the surgery we won’t get sued! It is sad but true! In addition we get consultations without number, most of which aren’t needed because of lawyers! Get real tort reform instituted (which won’t happen – we keep electing lawyers) and I promise you medical costs will fall by more than 50%!
By the same token, so would the cost of buying a car, groceries, or anything else. Talk to any small business man. Try to buy a small airplane. (I do not have one, by the way!) I have talked to a manufacturer, who told me that the cost of a private airplane had to be increased more than 100% due to legal costs. In almost EVERY case, when a plane crashes, the manufacturer is going to get sued! This entire industry has been almost destroyed by lawyers. Who is next?
Remember breast implants? (By the way, not the smartest idea anyone came up with.) They don’t harm you, but tell that to Dow Corning. They went under due to law suits. Now their product has been scientifically proven to do no harm, but it is far too late for them. The lawyers did them in! The court system is fair? Again ask Dow Corning or O.J. Simpson
I know I’m preaching to the choir on this web site, but oh well.

A disgruntled doctor

PS You are right, we all pay this cost. Congress even figures that when the calculate what a doctor gets paid by Medicare 3 things are considered, the complexity of the procedure, his overhead, and his malpractice risk. (They want to be sure he can pay the lawyers!)

If doctors have to operate under the Sword of Damocles of lawsuits, health care costs are going to spin further and further out of control.

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