Malpractice Lawsuit Reform Proposal

Bibliography of Source:

“Doctors take to streets to win malpractice reforms.” The Associated Press and CNN.com. February 1, 2003. Available http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/02/01/doctors.distress.ap/index.html, February 6, 2003.

Article Summary:

In this day and age, Americans seem “lawsuit-happy” – they sue for just about anything imaginable. Of all the categories of people that commonly get sued, doctors are probably some of the people sued most frequently. To protect themselves from paying the attorney fees and any money awarded to those suing them, doctors purchase malpractice insurance. This article discusses some recent problems in the malpractice insurance system. In the early part of the 90s, malpractice insurance companies got a good share of their money from investments. Since the economy is in a slump, insurance companies are looking elsewhere to get sufficient funds to insure doctors. Because there isn’t really any other place to go, insurance companies raise their rates. Many companies insuring doctors that perform high-risk surgeries charge in excess of $200,000 per year for malpractice insurance; others charge close to $300,000 for one year’s worth of malpractice insurance. In response to the recent enormous increases in malpractice insurance, Dr. David Sedor, a Pennsylvanian neurosurgeon said, “It’s heartbreaking, because all I ever wanted to do is come back and take care of people in my community‚ĶIt’s sad I might not be able to keep doing it.” Other upset doctors, concerned that malpractice insurance costs could lead to their inability to perform high-risk operations, are rallying for limits on awards for malpractice lawsuits. While both houses of Congress have a Republican majority, it is doubtful that any significant legislation will be passed because of disagreements over what will fix the flaws of the current malpractice insurance system.

Central question(s) of the course dealt with by article:

  • What is the role of the government in a democratic republic?
  • What are the rights of individuals in a democratic republic?
  • How is conflict addressed in a democratic republic?

What is your response to the central question of the course that the article deals with? Do your beliefs but you to the right or left of the spectrum on this issue? Explain.

The central issue in this article is, “What should be the government’s role in the malpractice insurance industry?” In a way, this issue deals with each of the three questions I listed – should the government limit awards for malpractice lawsuits? Similarly: should people be able to sue doctors in cases of malpractice for as much as they want? And, finally, how will this problem be solved?

I think that the government should limit the amount rewarded in cases of malpractice. So many lawsuits are brought to court, many of which are absurd. Yes, there are valid lawsuits in which doctors make mistakes that could have been prevented, but a doctor’s job is to fix what he can. There is a bit of risk involved with any type of operation, any type of procedure. Though doctors can’t always undo mistakes, there are multitudes of other ways they help us. In general, I’d have to say that doctors help more than they hurt. In addition to limiting awards for malpractice lawsuits, the government and doctors should formulate methods of preventing careless accidents.

I think my position puts me on the right of the spectrum. This is easy to determine, as the article repeatedly explains that generally Republicans are supportive of a limit on malpractice lawsuit awards. If the article hadn’t given it away, there are some other ways I could have come to this conclusion. In general, Democrats want to help the poor, while Republicans are more prone to helping the rich. In a Democrat’s mind, if people are allowed to sue for unlimited amounts, the poor can sue the rich doctors and then everyone will be on a more equal level – the gap between the rich and the poor will be smaller. They fail to realize that when the doctors no longer have enough money for the malpractice insurance, they can no longer offer their services.

Write a resolution for class debate relating to the issue you examined in the assignment:

Be it enacted a FEDERAL law to limit awards from malpractice lawsuits to $250,000.