culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Monday, January 20, 2003
Maybe you had read something, or maybe you heard someone on television talk about how the lawyers are fleecing all of us, and then maybe you learned that the
White House has proposed a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice suits under the rubric of tort reform, and maybe you thought, "Yeah, that's a good idea. Damn lawyers are ruining this country with bogus lawsuits."

That's when you should remember Linda McDougal, who was the recipient of an unneeded double mastectomy:
Dr. Daniel Foley, medical director of United Hospital, told a local television station on Friday that the hospital had made changes to ensure that "this kind of mix-up would never happen again."
In other words, "Gosh, we're sorry."

Now imagine that Linda McDougal is your mother, or your wife, or your daughter, or you.

The White House plan proposes a maximum of $125,000 per surgically removed healthy breast of Linda McDougal's.

Besides its inhumane favoritism of the interests of doctors and hospitals over those of patients, this disastrous plan would exacerbate the medical liability crisis by removing economic accountability — a pet Republican catchphrase — from medical practice.

We all need to stop thinking in terms of the spoon-fed soundbites emanating from the White House, and think more in terms of actual lives being affected by policy. Or, rather, actual lives being permanently damaged by poor policy.

Postscript #1: There are many excellent posts on tort reform and medical liability at The Bloviator.

Postscript #2: Dwight Meredith at PLA articulates this issue in useful and comparative detail, and even suggests a new cap.

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