class actions, disabled rights, copyright, attorneys general, online speech, law schools, obesity, New York, mortgages, legal blogs, safety, CPSC, pharmaceuticals, patent trolls, ADA filing mills, international human rights, humor, hate speech, illegal drugs, immigration law, cellphones, international law, real estate, bar associations, Environmental Protection Agency, First Amendment, insurance fraud, slip and fall, smoking bans, emergency medicine, regulation and its reform, dramshop statutes, hotels, web accessibility, United Nations, Alien Tort Claims Act, lobbyists, pools, school discipline, Voting Rights Act, legal services programs
   
   
 
   

FORUM

« Kelo v. New London | Anesthesiologists and Malpractice »

June 23, 2005


Anesthesiologists and Malpractice

The plaintiffs' bar is excited about a Wall Street Journal article (reprinted in the Jun. 21 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Schaeffer)) showing that anesthesiologists' malpractice insurance rates have decreased when adjusted for inflation. The tag-line: "Rather than pushing for laws that would protect them against patient lawsuits, these anesthesiologists focused on improving patient safety."

But the article fails to point out the revealing truth: while technological improvements and medical advances have reduced patient deaths from anesthesiology by more than an astounding 97% in the last twenty years, anesthesiologist malpractice insurance costs have dipped only 37% in real dollars. Could there be a more damning indictment of the total divorce between malpractice lawsuits and patient safety? Though anesthesiologists have improved an embarrassingly shoddy record thanks to much-needed and previously unperformed scientific research, they're still seeing about half as many lawsuits as when they were killing forty to sixty times as many patients.

Hospitals can do more to improve safety. But the random lottery of malpractice suits doesn't accomplish this goal, it only makes medicine more expensive and transfers wealth from patients and doctors to lawyers.

Posted by Ted Frank at 02:52 PM | TrackBack (0)



categories:
Medicine and Law









 

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.