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Medical Malpractice Reform Loses Momentum

05/20/11

  04:02:53 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Medical Malpractice Reform Loses Momentum

Malpractice reform seems like one health care issue that both political parties could find some common ground – even President Obama stated as much in his State of Union address. But the Connecticut Mirror reports that progress on curbing frivolous lawsuits has been slow.

That’s not to say that some attempts haven’t been made to jump-start the malpractice matter. Last week, a House committee passed a bill to cap non-economic and punitive damages in medical lawsuit awards. Such a bill has a fair shot of winning approval in the GOP-led House – but even if it does survive, it will likely lose its momentum by the time it reaches the Senate.

Other efforts have met even less success. A proposal to provide $50 million in demonstration grants to the states to develop and implement initiatives that would reduce medical-related lawsuits was dropped from the 2011 budget.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty in medical malpractice reform, the article notes, is reconciling the legal rights of patients with the need to clamp down on “junk” lawsuits. As many as 98,000 patients die every year due to medical errors, so the ability to petition for compensation must be supported. But doctors’ fears of getting sued leads to practicing defensive medicine through unnecessary tests, driving up costs for everybody in the process.

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