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October 22, 2009


Robert Oshel

Congressman Braley has it exactly right! Since the National Practitioner Data Bank began collecting data in 1990, in most states only about two percent of physicians have been responsible for over half of all the money paid out in malpractice payments. And frequently these two percent have multiple payments in their records but no action taken against their licenses or clinical privileges by state licensing boards or hospital peer reviewers. So they can continue to practice and harm additional patients. If you want to reduce costs — and more importantly to reduce malpractice — force the state medical boards to take action to protect patients.

Tort reform simply treats the symptoms and ignores the real problem. The Institute of Medicine says that about 100,000 people a year are killed by malpractice. Yet there are fewer than 20,000 malpractice payments each year for all causes, not just deaths. Clearly the way to save health care costs — and lives and injuries — is to reduce malpractice itself, not just sweep it under the rug by making it difficult or impossible for injured patients to seek damages from those who harmed them. That only transfers the costs from those who cause the injury to those who are injured.

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