Putting med-mal in check
Instituting universal medical coverage is a key step in pulling the plug on runaway medical malpractice lawsuits, and the unnecessary expense of defensive medicine that ensues (“New doc payment system needed,” ModernHealthcare.com, April 6).
One key driver in keeping the medical malpractice industry going is the lack of alternative sources of funds for continuing care in many cases. Even in the absence of any malpractice whatsoever, a person or family facing a future of continuing high medical costs for a chronic illness or injury (brain damage from birth anoxia, for example), which is beyond their means of payment and is not covered by insurance is not likely to just crawl off into a hole and let things fester. They will go after the most obvious source of funding via a malpractice lawsuit. If there are any peeps from the conscience about whether the doctor is truly at fault, they will be sedated by the thought that “malpractice insurance will pay.”
In contrast, in Canada where medical costs from whatever cause are entirely covered, malpractice lawsuits are rare, as is defensive medicine and superfluous testing. It is illegal to sue for pain and suffering from malpractice, so the only grounds are actual costs from lost wages, etc., stemming from the incident. And the only cases that are worth bringing under these circumstances are so obvious that it isn’t worth it for the doctors to fight them for such small amounts.
Gerald Zuckier Hamden, Conn.