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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Novel Idea for GOP Platform Committee: Payouts Decrease When Malpractice Incidents Decrease

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"Business Insurance" website posted an article today that says that the Republican party is "aggressively committed to pursuing tort reform" and that the quoted statement is part of the GOP convention platform.

The platform has, apparently, determined that "frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits" have increased the cost of healthcare. Apparently, the truth never gets in the way of the GOP's attack on victims. Study after study has shown that medical malpractice payouts are a mere scintilla of the cost of healthcare. Yet, the vast majority of cases of medical malpractice committed by doctors are not even pursued in litigation. I hate the way these anti-citizen special interest group hacks toss around the word "frivolous". Frivolous cases, by definition, are worthless. With the skyrocketing cost of pursuing malpractice litigation for less and less reward (thanks to these ridiculous anti-citizen litigation restrictions sponsored by the GOP and its supporters) what lawyer in his/her right mind would spend a fortune to pursue a "worthless" case? Don't be fooled ladies and gentlemen; this platform is not about reducing the filing of worthless cases. It is about limiting citizen access and bailing out those who commit serious mistakes in diagnosis and treatment, with devastating consequences to the patient. It is about shifting responsibility for the consequences of serious malpractice cases from the doctors and the insurance companies to the taxpayers. Stupid me; I thought Republicans stood for tax relief. Well…no…that is true only when said relief applies to its campaign contributors.

The GOP platform also argues that doctors are practicing so-called "defensive medicine" to avoid being sued. As that argument goes, doctors perform unnecessary tests to avoid litigation. Someday, someone on the other side of this debate will have to explain this concept to me. An "unnecessary test", by definition, does not prevent malpractice because…wait for it….it was unnecessary to begin with. In fact, isn't it malpractice to perform an "unnecessary test"? Shouldn't the doctor be paying for tests that he/she does, unnecessarily, in some lame attempt to avoid a malpractice claim? Why should we or our health insurance carriers pay for that which is. admittedly, "unnecessary"?

The GOP platform further argues that avoiding "defensive medicine" will improve health care quality. What happened to common sense? Let's break down the word "unnecessary": It means: not necessary. If a test wasn't necessary in the first instance, how does eliminating that test improve "quality"? It may improve quantity and it may reduce cost if they stop performing that which is not necessary, but, if a test is unnecessary, not performing it will not increase or decrease malpractice incidents.

Here's a novel idea: If the GOP wants to decrease malpractice lawsuits, why not concentrate on limiting or preventing medical mistakes? Why not require medical professionals to apologize for mistakes instead of forcing patients to sue to obtain the truth? And here is another tip for doctors, insurance companies and the GOP: Stop lying to the American people.