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Debunking the Medical Malpractice Myth

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Subtitled Forget Tort Reform. The Democrats Have a Better Diagnosis, Ezra Klein’s Slate.com article examines the so-called medical malpractice crisis facing America today. Taking a closer look at studies and Tom Baker’s book, The Medical Malpractice Myth, Klein comes to the conclusion that tort reform is not the answer; reducing the number of medical errors is.

Dr. David Studdert led a team of eight researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham Young University who examined 1,452 medical malpractice lawsuits. They found that more than 90 percent of the claims showed evidence of medical injury, which means they weren’t frivolous. In 60 percent of these cases, the injury resulted from physician wrongdoing. In a quarter of the claims, the patient died.

When baseless medical malpractice suits were brought, the study further found, the courts efficiently threw them out. Only six of the cases in which the researchers couldn’t detect injury received even token compensation.

Klein also notes that the American Society of Anesthesiologists and University of Michigan Medical System each analyzed data to try and reduce medical errors. When they put their new safety plans in place, each saw a dramatic decrease in spending on insurance premiums and malpractice litigation.