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The Truth About Tort Reform

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The Republicans seem to think that tort reform is what's needed to improve our health care system. To the Fox News audience, it might seem like a good idea -- cracking down on those greedy trial lawyers, as they like to spin it.

But those are just code words for limiting medical malpractice lawsuits by implementing federal caps on non-economic damages for pain and suffering.

In reality, it's not about the trial lawyers. It's about the legal rights of everyday people who suddenly find themselves victims of preventable medical errors.

It's about the man who had the wrong leg amputated.

It's about the woman who had an unnecessary mastectomy because of a false cancer diagnosis.

It's about the baby who will have to live with cerebral palsy and mental retardation because of a mismanaged labor and delivery.

It's about the 98,000 patients who die each year as a result of medical negligence or wrongdoing -- the sixth leading cause of death in America.

And, as Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) pointed out during last week's Health Care Summit in Washington, it's about the additional 4,800 people who will die each year if the Republican malpractice proposal were implemented, as estimated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

The Republicans are apparently too busy pandering for votes from the big hospital conglomerates and physicians' associations to care about the victims.

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And they are apparently too busy pandering for those votes to care about the real problems at the core of the health care crisis.

It's all about protecting the medical-industrial complex from those who might suffer from its mistakes.

It's all about protecting the rich from being held accountable.

And that cannot be called health care reform.

The American Association for Justice sums up the real malpractice issue quite well on its website 98000reasons.org: "The best way to have fewer medical malpractice cases is to reduce the number of medical errors. If less people need to seek legal recourse, that means patients are getting safer. Patients that are safer also means lower costs to the health care system. Everyone can support this."

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Well, everyone except the Republicans, it seems. They are obviously looking at a very different bottom line.


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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It would indeed be nice if physicians and health c... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Monday, Mar 1, 2010 at 10:29:31 AM
A piece of reality that people should read careful... by BFalcon on Monday, Mar 1, 2010 at 10:56:50 AM
See the previous comment since I do not want to re... by BFalcon on Monday, Mar 1, 2010 at 11:15:52 AM
At 49, my dad came down with a bad virus and was h... by Dick Thomson on Monday, Mar 1, 2010 at 11:59:05 AM
and not enough facts to make a solid decision. Hen... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Monday, Mar 1, 2010 at 7:09:06 PM
What happened to the "doctor-patient relationship"... by Dick Thomson on Monday, Mar 1, 2010 at 8:49:50 PM
My response was entitled "Too Many Generalizations... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010 at 12:03:09 AM
His doctor told him to go home and rest. I don't t... by Dick Thomson on Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010 at 7:40:20 AM
I hate to go into your father's story since it mu... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010 at 7:13:43 PM
But still, who should be punished? The orderly, wh... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010 at 7:27:23 PM
As others here have noted, Nature messes up someti... by Jill Herendeen on Monday, Mar 1, 2010 at 8:08:50 PM
You advocate suing someone - and potentially ruini... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010 at 12:17:28 AM
But this is what happens. Nor do I advocate just ... by Jill Herendeen on Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010 at 11:14:39 AM
...And Old Codger, here's a generalization you've ... by Donald Rankin III on Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010 at 2:30:39 AM
Juries are purposefully selected from among those ... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010 at 7:21:15 PM