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Caps and No-Fault Malpractice

The widely read blog KevinMD, written by Dr. Kevin Pho who is an opinion leader on issues related to the medical point-of-view on medical malpractice issues, makes what I think is a startling admission:

Politically, malpractice caps are dead — tort reformers should abandon that option. Furthermore, arguing that tort reform will save significant sums of money is growing less viable.

It’s more important to re-frame the malpractice debate to focus on patients. That’s where the malpractice reform crowd will have more solid evidence to stand on.

Certainly, the American Medical Association public relations engine – and it is a Ferrari-like engine – has not gotten the message because they have been doubling down on pushing for instituting or lowering malpractice caps. I sign up for Google News Alerts on malpractice – a really cool feature, by the way. Methodically, the AMA is putting up opinion pieces in support of medical malpractice reform. This effort to influence public opinion is clearly organized and disciplined. But the AMA is clearly not demanding originality: every piece reads exactly like every other. There are no new ideas being tossed around, just the usual dribble about no-fault malpractice insurance and health courts without any explanation of the benefits or challenges these courts would face.

Dr. Pho and one of the commenters to the post, who appears to be a doctor, seem to buy into this idea of no-fault medical malpractice. I think it is one of those things that sounds good in theory. Kinda like tax cuts. But no-fault means paying for bad medical outcomes that may or may not involve negligence. Only a small percentage of victims bring malpractice lawsuits who have meritorious claims (both sides of the debate agree on this). So we would even have malpractice claim payouts that are infinitely higher than what we have now or we would have compensation that is a small fraction of what meritorious malpractice claims should be worth.