Archives: December 2011

Survey: Docs Glum on Healthcare Reform

Most U.S. doctors believe that healthcare reform will increase use of public health insurance programs but will not reduce costs, according to results from a survey of 500 physicians by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. A total of 85% of respondents said they felt that enrollment in Medicare and Medicaid would increase as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but just 27% said they thought the law would decrease healthcare costs. In addition, most of the survey respondents said they believe that healthcare reform will hurt their incomes and are pessimistic about the future of the medical profession. For its report, the center surveyed a nationally representative random sample of U.S. physicians from the American Medical Association’s Master File about their attitudes toward the ACA and how they think the law will impact the practice of medicine. Deloitte mailed 16,500 physicians letters inviting them to participate and offering an incentive after the 30-minute online survey was completed. About 3% completed the survey. A total of 60% of respondents gave the U.S. healthcare system a grade of “C” or “D” overall, but they were split over whether the ACA is the way to fix the system (about 44%…

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Reforming health reform

When President Barack Obama‘s health care reform was making its way through Congress,Republicans and other opponents registered plenty of criticisms: It was too generous, too inflexible and too centralized. But such concerns were brushed aside in the push to get a bill passed. Today, it’s harder to ignore those flaws. Implementation of the program has brought tougher challenges than the administration led Americans to expect. So it has been obliged to make some major concessions to reality. Faced with companies that said they would drop "mini-med" policies whose benefits were deemed inadequate, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granted hundreds of one-year waivers to ease the transition to more comprehensive coverage. The alternative was to leave millions of workers, who previously had some insurance protection, with none. Obama understandably didn’t want to wear the jacket for that outcome. And when it became clear that a provision to furnish long-term care for the elderly would be too pricey to attract enough premium-paying applicants, the administration was wise enough not to try to propose new taxes to make up the difference. Instead, in deference to fiscal prudence and undeniable mathematics, it scrapped the undertaking. Opponents have faulted the overall…

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When the Doctor Faces a Lawsuit

Within months of completing my training, I received the call that every doctor dreads. “You’ve been named in a malpractice lawsuit,” said the hospital administrator on the other end of the line. The family of a patient I had seen briefly a year before believed that a colleague’s decision not to operate hastened her demise. Now their lawyers, combing through the medical records, believed that a single sentence in my note brought that doctor’s decision into question. As a second or maybe even third opinion, I had written that the woman was a “possible candidate” for surgery. The truth was that when I saw her she was a possible candidate, but only tenuously so. In fact, her health deteriorated so rapidly that by the time she finished seeing all the specialists and returned to her original surgeon, the chances of her surviving any treatment, no matter how heroic, were almost nil. Though I knew all that, in the weeks after that telephone call I couldn’t help questioning myself, going over the case in my mind as soon as I woke up, then again and again late into the night. I froze with fear every time I was asked for my…

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Malpractice Suits Cause Psychological Distress and Career Burnout Among U.S. Surgeons

Journal of the American College of Surgeons Study Reveals Malpractice Litigation Drives Profound Personal Implications, Including Depression and Low Career Satisfaction CHICAGO (November 14, 2011) – According to the results of a new study published in the November 2011 Journal of the American College of Surgeons, malpractice lawsuits against U.S. surgeons occur often and can take a profound personal toll on the surgeon, resulting in emotional exhaustion, stress, and professional dissatisfaction. The researchers examined personal and professional characteristics and found malpractice lawsuits were strongly and independently linked to surgeon depression and career burnout. The stress caused by malpractice litigation was rated as equivalent to that of financial worries, pressure to succeed in research, work/home conflicts, and coping with patients' suffering and death. Finally, surgeons who experienced a recent malpractice lawsuit reported less career satisfaction and were less likely to recommend a surgical or medical career to their children or others. The surgical specialties reporting the highest rates of malpractice lawsuits in the last 24 months were neurosurgery (31 percent), cardiothoracic surgery (29 percent), general surgery (28 percent), colorectal surgery (28 percent), and obstetric and gynecologic surgery (28 percent). The lowest rate specialties reporting malpractice lawsuits were otolaryngology (12 percent), ophthalmology (12 percent)…

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December 2011 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 6, Issue 12 December 2011 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Hidden Costs of Medical Lawsuit Abuse New Good Samaritan Protection Bill Introduced Reforming Health Care Reform Happy Holidays from Protect Patients Now Hidden Costs of Medical Lawsuit Abuse While the financial costs of our broken medical liability system are sky-high – estimated anywhere between $55 billion and $210 billion per year – the social and emotional costs on physicians and patients are not always as easy to quantify, but just as important nonetheless. In a recent post on the New York Times blog Well, Dr. Pauline Chen provides a glimpse at how a lawsuit affects a physician, and in turn, his or her patients. After Dr. Chen was named in a lawsuit that was eventually dropped, she began defensively practicing medicine. “I froze with fear every time I was asked for my opinion on a diagnosis or treatment plan and became a master at evasion, littering my assessments and write-ups with words like “maybe,” “perhaps” and “will await further work-up,” Chen wrote. A survey last month by the American College of Surgeons found that of out 7,000 surgeons polled, nearly one in four were in the…

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