Recently in Tort Reform Category

February 23, 2011

Medical Malpractice Reform Should Focus On Patient Safety

Medical Malpractice reform has been receiving much attention recently with the introduction of H.R. 5, which seeks to impose national tort reforms measures, including the imposition of caps on non-economic damages as well as potentially taking away the right to trial by jury in some medical malpractice cases.

As New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers, we believe such measures often fail to address the real issue - patients safety. Study after study show that patients suffer significant harm and costs in hospitals due to adverse reactions from dangerous drugs, infections, surgical errors and unnecessary procedures. Rather than limiting victims' access to justice, more focus must be placed on improving patient safety and ensuring that those responsible for causing harm be held accountable.

Recent examples include the DePuy Hip, now shown to leak dangerous chemicals into the bodies of recipients. Often, the only way to get companies to remove dangerous products from the marketplace and be compensated for the harm caused is through litigation. Capping our damages or limiting access to the court room will remove an important incentive to improving the safety of our health care.

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December 2, 2009

New Mexico Medical Malpractice - Tort Reforms Hurts Those Most In Need

On Monday, the U.S. Senate began debating the historical health care plan designed to reform the nation's health care system by changing the way insurance companies do business. Senator Henry Reid's (D-Nev) bill will provide much needed reform and assistance to the millions of Americans who pay exorbitant fees for health care coverage, are denied coverage or who receive inadequate health care coverage. But critics - including medical malpractice defense attorneys, insurance companies and hospitals - seek to prevent passage of this historic measure by arguing that health reform must also include "tort reform." These naysayers argue that in order to adequately address health care reform, we must also cap damages in medical malpractice actions (which would limit the amount awarded to the catastrophically injured as a result of physician and hospital negligence.) However, studies have shown that capping medical malpractice awards has little overall effect on the cost of health care. In fact, New Mexico has some of the least restrictive tort reform laws and also ranks as one of the lowest states in health care costs. Limiting the amount those who have been catastrophically injured may recover due to physician malpractice, human error and hospital negligence shifts the financial burden from those who caused the injury to those suffering the consequences. Those individuals become victims twice - first as a result of medical negligence and second as a result of the court system denying their right to adequate compensation. Further, tort reformers' claims that physicians' fear of lawsuits - so called "defensive medicine"- has contributed to the overall cost of health care have been greatly exaggerated. Studies show that the costs of physicians practicing "defensive medicine" have little if any impact on the overall cost of healthcare.

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