Haybrant

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Hey Guys,
Can someone give a brief description of what tort reform is; how will it clean up the medical malpractice lawsuit mess, or will it?
 

Larsitron

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Basically this is geared towards reducing the number of "frivolous" lawsuits in general. It would improve medicine (according to some, not necessarily me) by reducing the fear that doctors have of being successfully sued by raising the standard that the plaintiff would have to reach in order to prove that the doctor owes them damages. Here in Arizona, its really hard to recruit neurosurgeons to hospitals because our laws are such that the plaintiff claiming damages doesn't have a high burden of proof. However, it's unclear how this would affect state laws (which are primarily responsible for the grounds that malpractice is filed on) because states always have the freedom to guarantee people more freedoms that aren't explicitly overridden by a federal statute created on a constitutional clause. For example, a state can provide greater protection for free speech than federal law does.

But yeah, I'm no lawyer so if someone wants to dispute what I've said, go for it.
 

AStudent

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Briefly:

Tort reform occured in the state of Michigan a few years ago where the government limited the amount of money a person can sue a doctor for. Therefore you can't hope and "win the lottery" by sueing the doctor (40 million dollars)

In Michigan suits are limited to:
Malpractice not involving reproductive organs/infants: $180,000 per case
Malpractice involving reproductive organs/infants/or the brain: $300,000 per case

Furthermore to win a case a plantiff must prove 3 things.
-That an injury happened
-That an injury resulted from malpractice
-That a similary doctor under the same conditions wouldn't have made the same mistake

This way you cut down on the amount of suits people can file, and the amount of money they can win. This reduces cost for insurance companies but doesn't save doctors any money because rates will NEVER decrease, only remain the same.

Haybrant said:
Hey Guys,
Can someone give a brief description of what tort reform is; how will it clean up the medical malpractice lawsuit mess, or will it?
 
OP
H

Haybrant

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AStudent said:
This way you cut down on the amount of suits people can file, and the amount of money they can win. This reduces cost for insurance companies but doesn't save doctors any money because rates will NEVER decrease, only remain the same.

well i guess it helps prevent increases which is an indirect savings.
so, the grounds you mention are necessary for lawsuit filing are not required currently in certain states? Also, is there a push at the fedral level to levy changes?
 

BenYossarian

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Haybrant said:
well i guess it helps prevent increases which is an indirect savings.
so, the grounds you mention are necessary for lawsuit filing are not required currently in certain states? Also, is there a push at the fedral level to levy changes?
actually, texas just passed a cap on malpractice lawsuits last year...and just recently one of the insurers here DID raise their rates. The medical community here was pretty happy about this passing, but I think it's really just a cop out to the insurance industry.
 

AStudent

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The grounds for a case in Michigan are MUCH higher than in other states, which makes Michigan more "progressive" than most. However, there is a push for national tort reform.


Haybrant said:
well i guess it helps prevent increases which is an indirect savings.
so, the grounds you mention are necessary for lawsuit filing are not required currently in certain states? Also, is there a push at the fedral level to levy changes?
 

Law2Doc

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Haybrant said:
well i guess it helps prevent increases which is an indirect savings.
so, the grounds you mention are necessary for lawsuit filing are not required currently in certain states? Also, is there a push at the fedral level to levy changes?
As of now there are very few instances where tort reform has occurred on a federal/national level. Generally to the extent tort reform occurs it will likely involve caps on the awards permissible for certain types of injuries, additional financial penalties on attorneys who bring palpably frivolous cases, and a requirement to bring certain types of cases before a certain judge or magistrate without a jury - who presumably will be more rational with awards than a jury. (There will unlikely ever be outright prohibition of certain types of suits by plaintiffs, as a prior poster had suggested.)
This last form (bringing suit before a specific judge) has been implemented on a national level with respect to vaccine related litigation (under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act), as children injured by certain immunizations must bring their cases before a specific federal court and have their cases heard by a federal judge, with awards administered by a federal judge from a fund paid for by taxes on vaccines, before they have any right to instead file suit in another court (which they rarely continue to pursue). This federally implemented court has resulted in deserving injured plaintiffs being able to be compensated while not suing vaccine companies out of existence, and hopefully will serve as a possible model for other areas of tort reform.
 

delchrys

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the limits in michigan that were mentioned are misleading. the amounts of the limits are for only one type of damages--noneconomic damages. politicians call this "pain and suffering" damages, but it also covers the financial hardship faced by the paralyzed or dead person's family when they no longer have a father or husband working in a blue-collar home, for example. also, the dollar amounts given are wrong. the statutory limits were and are set to increase annually, so they are actually higher than those given by a decent amount.

the problem with tort reform is that it sounds good, but was enacted to either make insurance companies happy or to placate physician lobbyists. the problem with the latter reason is that tort reforms actually don't work to lower doctor's malpractice insurance, and are of dubious effectiveness in controlling those costs AT ALL. at the same time, realize that everything or anything done to limit a doctor's liabilty is going to simultaneously limit every injured patient's ability to recover damages. get the idea of the cheating liar patient and the scumbag lawyer out of your minds--they exist, but much less than you'd believe. much more common are the patients who lost their legs or died or had a huge chunk of their ass resected because the nursing staff and the docs let them develop stage four decubitis out of sheer laziness. if it's cool for a patient, regardless of age or earning capacity, to lose one or two legs or to die because a nurse would rather have spent her nights BSing with other nurses than turning her immobile patient from time-to-time as the standard of care requires, and then on top of that to tell the patient to go to hell because they don't deserve any money for their missing legs because someone else wants to make profit (and, coincidentally, that same someone else is the party responsible for your missing legs!), then it begs the question of whether you really belong in the medical profession.

first do no harm. not "first protect your wallet." the biggest problem, as i said, is that tort reforms do NOT protect docs' wallets, but they DO strip away patient rights. don't buy it from me--go to the GAO website (Goverment Accounting Office) and go through their many reports on the subject.