What happened to tort reform?


  • 0
  • July 17, 2010

Ignoring tort reform does no one any justice and essentially drives up the cost we all pay. It wasn’t long ago that the Congressional Budget Office determined that medical liability reform, also known as tort reform, could save our country money in health-care spending. In fact, they said it could save a lot of money — in the range of $54 billion. That’s not chump change for anyone. So, many people were happy when the Obama administration heard the words of the CBO and announced that $25 million in funding would be provided to establish medical liability and patient safety demonstration projects and planning grants. This was ushered in with the many health-system reforms passed earlier this year in Washington. But now that the grants have been awarded, many across the nation are scratching their heads and asking, “What about tort-reform projects?” According to Pennsylvania Supreme Court data, 85.1 percent of medical malpractice claims that end up in front of a jury result in a decision for the defense. In other words, the doctors and hospitals tend to win and win often when they are wrongly sued, possibly a sign that too many claims are advancing that shouldn’t. Certainly when there’s an 85 percent error rate in our current system, there must be a way to correct what’s wrong and thus reduce the amount of time and money being wasted. As we move forward for the better health of Pennsylvanians through health-system reform, we must remember that all industries, professions and individuals play a role in today’s delivery and cost of health care. Ignoring tort reform does no one any justice and essentially drives up the cost we all pay for the delivery of health care. The patient-doctor relationship has been the priority of the Pennsylvania Medical Society since its founding in 1848. While there are many issues always being debated, the physician members will continue to focus on better health for all Pennsylvanians.