As the disagreement continues over $85 million worth of federal budget cuts, the financial stability of all federal agencies hangs in the balance. Medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm note that some point to medical malpractice reform as a creative way to slash the national debt.
An article in Bloomberg highlighted this proposal, explaining how reform could decelerate healthcare costs and subsequently aid in implementing a long-term deficit reduction plan. Currently, the top 25% most expensive Medicare beneficiaries make up 85% of total Medicare spending. Those expenses are the culmination of individual doctor’s recommendations; meaning that spending is mostly driven by the treatment plans doctors prescribe to Medicare patients.
Although doctors are influenced by an array of factors in making their decisions, the most prominent include individual training, financial incentives, healthcare traditions, and the current medical malpractice system. Recent research by Cornell Law School suggests that if the federal government improves the criteria for what is considered appropriate care the results would not only change doctor’s behavior, but save a significant amount of money as well.
There are currently proposals for legislation in many states that would alter the medical malpractice laws, however, these bills are mostly aimed at limiting doctor’s and hospital’s liability. The more important issue legislators should be focusing on is how guilt is determined in the first place. When medical mistakes are made, guilt is usually placed on whoever deviated from standard, customary practice. This concept made sense in previous decades, when only a few treatment options were available. Today, with the extreme acceleration of medicinal technologies, this concept is now ambiguous to say the least.
The concept of following standard and customary practices causes most doctors to merely mimic what others are doing or have done in the same situation, and use those methods to treat their patients. If modern medicine has taught us anything, however, it is that what we traditionally believed to be the correct, most effective forms of treatment are often anything but.
By changing the definition of the standard of care, states could then protect doctors more fully through their medical malpractice laws. The key to changing this definition is by making sure the standard is based not on tradition, but on good, modern, effective medicine.
In 2012, US spent nearly $3 trillion on health care, which is about 18% of total national spending on goods and services. Some are proposing the federal government creates a safety net for doctors who follow evidence-based, published medical documents when choosing their route of treatment. Institutions such as the National Guideline Clearinghouse would be responsible for deciding the qualifying guidelines for these new medical standards.
In theory, then, patients would not be able to file lawsuits for malpractice
if the doctor or hospital could prove that they followed a best-care standard
based on evidence and published, pre-approved research. On the other hand,
if a doctor failed to adhere to best-care guidelines, and decided to follow
the traditional, out-dated methods instead, a patient would have significant
basis for a malpractice claim.
This would have a huge impact on doctor’s behavior, cutting out preventative and unnecessary testing, and improving public trust in our nation’s healthcare system. This change in malpractice law could do much more to improve our federal deficit than an arbitrary sequester.
Medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm advocate on behalf of victims and their families, and report on all malpractice reform legislation going on throughout the country. If you or someone you love was seriously injured by a medical mistake, contact an experience attorney who can guide you through the complex legal process.