So Crazy it Just Might Work

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains how anesthesiologists have kept their malpractice rates low. Their radical theory? Less harm to patients would mean fewer lawsuits. As shown in the chart below, anesthesiologists malpractice rates have actually decreased over the last 20 years.

Instead of pushing for laws that would protect them from potential lawsuits, anesthesiologists have focused on improvement in patient safety. Advancements in procedures geared around patient safety and devices that alert doctors to potentially fatal problems in the operating room have improved the overall safety rate. Just 20 years ago, one in every 5,000 patients died as a result of anesthesia. Today, that number is one in every 200,000 to 300,000 patients.
These numbers are even more impressive when you consider that anesthesiologists were once considered one of the most high risk specialties to insure. Premiums for anesthesiologists 20 years ago were two to three times higher that other specialties. This is similar to the position that obstetricians and neurologists find themselves in today. However, these specialties have failed to follow in the footsteps of their colleagues so far as focusing on patient safety. Their misguided efforts continue to be on taking rights away from those who are injured.


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