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Protect Patients Now

Volume 3, Issue 8 AUGUST 2008 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

Get Your Tickets Now for the Health Care Event of Campaign 2008!

Click here to registerThe date is fast approaching (September 17-18) when America’s leading voices in the health care debate will gather in Orlando, Florida for the seminal health care conference of this election year. America’s Health Care at Risk: Finding a Cure – of which Protect Patients Now and Doctors for Medical Liability Reform are leading sponsors – will bring together an unprecedented, high-level group of policy makers and experts from all parts of the political spectrum in a search for common solutions to this nation’s health care problems.

One of the most important will be our very own Dr. James Bean, President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, who will help focus discussion on the centrality of medical liability reform to any effective overall reform of our health care system.

The kick-off will be a sparkling dinner debate between mega-pundits Karl Rove and James Carville, who will be appearing together on stage for very first time. Other speakers at this star-studded event include former Governor and President of the National Association of Manufacturers John Engler, former Governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, current Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin, AARP CEO Bill Novelli, SEIU President Andy Stern …..and many, many others.

You don’t want to miss this exciting and potentially game-changing event. To find out more, and register to attend, you can visit the conference website at

Eyes Wide Shut at the DNC

The Democratic National Committee has released its platform for 2008, and the good news is that it at least recognizes that there are too many medical liability lawsuits and that something should be done about it. The not-so-good news is that the document seems to ignore the real source of the problem.

Calling for “a modernized system that lowers cost and improves care,” the platform proposes the adoption of “state-of-the-art health information technology” and a few other minor reforms that will reduce “the prevalence of lawsuits related to medical errors.” We’re all for health IT but it will have little effect on an out-of-control liability system in which the number and severity of suits has little if any correlation to the actual practice of medicine. (You can read the Democratic platform here.)

Data for 2006 show that some 71% of cases are dropped or dismissed. In other words, those cases are frivolous. Most of them never should have been brought in the first place. In fact, only 1% of all cases ever result in a payment to the plaintiff (though even those cost doctors an average of $25,000 to defend against). No improvement in the delivery of health care is going to do much about stopping frivolous cases. This is a legal, not medical, problem which can only be fixed by changing our laws, i.e. by medical liability reform that puts reasonable limits on non-economic damages and thus removes the incentive for people to file these frivolous, costly and damaging suits in the first place.

Maybe They Should Consider a Manger Instead

It’s getting harder and harder to find an open maternity ward these days. It seems another one — at the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, in Brooklyn, New York – will be closing its doors after more than a century of service to the community, because medical liability premiums threatened to throw the entire hospital into bankruptcy. The plan is for the maternity ward to be turned into condos. The some 3,000 mothers who deliver their babes there each year will be forced to go elsewhere. We hear they closed down most of the mangers in New York, too.

Good Reading

Dr. Jack Jawitz of Sun City Center, Florida, writes compellingly of the access to care crisis in Florida brought on by the absence of medical liability reform. For one thing, he says, young doctors are not moving to the state. At a recent confab of some 60 physicians, all those under 40 were asked to stand up. There were none. “Too few doctors are coming to Florida to replace us,” writes Jawitz. “Florida is the most doctor unfriendly state in the union. [New doctors] are going to any state but Florida because we are the only state with ‘three strikes and you’re out.’ Guilty or not, right or wrong, a physician can permanently lose their license.”

With so few doctors choosing to come to Florida, Jawitz points out, “it will not be long till our seniors understand their health is at risk. Retirees will stop coming and those here will start to leave.”

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