Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine this week that offers a different approach to controlling the medical malpractice insurance crisis/problem. We know that there is a disconnect between a patient being injured, a patient being injured through negligence and financial compensation. The number of $250,000 has been bandied about as a cap on awards for noneconomic damages – and absurbly low number that was fine in 1977 when enacted in California, but now worth $750,000. Once you’ve been through the experience, your view on the cap will change quickly.
More importantly, the senators argue, is to prevent the incidents in the first place. As they point out, the Institute of Medicine repost found thar 90 percent of the deaths from errors were the result of failed systems and procedures, not negligence. If that’s the case, then the emphasis on prevention – and compensation – has to shift.
Some hospitals are reporting success by shifting by a “deny and block” mentality when an incident occurs to an open system of disclosing the problem, and working to settle compensation quickly.A second article worth reading is in Slate this week.
Both articles are relatively short, but well worth reading and are valuable contributions to the debate. Let’s focus on the problem, not the symptoms.