Every so often when healthcare is discussed, someone invariably alleged that a culprit is the litigation costs associated with medical malpractice lawsuits and that there should be banned or limited or whatever.
Now, trust, I am a lawyer, but my practice has nothing whatsoever to do with personal injury or medical malpractice, so I have no dog in the fight.
But, from the anecdote department: This past Sunday night I injured my back and was in excruciating pain. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where they gave me some state of the art painkillers and made me feel much better while I lay functionally immobilized for about 10 hours. Fine. Everyone's happy. Right?
Well, at some point, the doctor in attendance decided that they needed to remove me to make room for more patients and so he starts working on me to go home. I asked if I could be admitted, so he says "yeah; you could either be on pain killers in a hospital room or on the same pain killers in your own bed with your own TV..." He did some urine analysis to rule out a kidney stone and then said a CT scan was unnecessary. I asked about an x-ray or an MRI and he says "nah; it's muscle or ligament damage; you just need pain killers and rest." So he writes me scripts for Vicodin an Valium and all but shoved me out the door.
So, I go home and make an appointment with an orthopedist, who does an x-ray and a full examination of me. Fortunately, the ER doc made a lucky guess and there is nothing structurally wrong with me. But the ER doc couldn't possibly have known enough to draw the conclusion that he did. The orthopedist said that he'd never make such a snap diagnosis and he's been deadling with backs for 30 years.
Now, if the ER doc was wrong and I had aggravated an injury by going home without needed treatment, you can bet your bottom dollar I'd have sued that hospital for whatever I could have. They bounced me because they needed the space. The ER doc made an educated guess, but a guess nonetheless.
If we decimate the MedMal action, how do we hold doctors and hospitals accountable for lack of thoroughness?