George Bush’s Medical Malpractice Myth

Another way to pad some of his Repugnican buddies’ pockets. And that has remarkably been almost exclusively what this administration has been about – profiteering: war, energy, medical, agribusiness, you name it, ….

Malpractice ‘Crisis’ Distorted for Profit, New Analysis Suggests: Handful of docs behind most medical-error payouts
by Catherine Komp

Jan. 12 – A new report suggests the Bush administration, the medical industry and business lobbyists have distorted and exploited the medical-malpractice “crisis” in the name of profit.

In an analysis released Wednesday by Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy group says the real crisis is the lack of accountability for doctors who commit avoidable medical errors.

Public Citizen researchers analyzed fifteen years of data from the federal National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), which includes information on malpractice payouts made by doctors and disciplinary action against them. The Data Bank has known limitations, but Public Citizen says it is the best-available source on the subject.

The analysis found that the number of easily preventable medical errors, including operating on the incorrect body part or leaving a foreign object inside a patient’s body, jumped 40 percent between 2003 and 2005. The latter count – 705 cases – was the highest rate in eleven years.

The majority of malpractice payouts are also made by repeat offenders, according to Public Citizen’s analysis. About 6 percent of doctors were responsible for more than half of all malpractice payouts made between 1991 and 2005. The report noted that the overwhelming majority – 85 percent – of doctors have not been behind a single malpractice payout since the Data Bank was created.

While removing problematic practitioners from the field through license suspension or revocation could reduce the rate of medical liability, Public Citizen says doctors are infrequently disciplined beyond the monetary payment. The analysis of the Data Bank found that two-thirds of doctors responsible for ten or more malpractice payouts were not disciplined at all by their state boards of medicine.

The analysis of the Data Bank found that two-thirds of doctors responsible for ten or more malpractice payouts were not disciplined at all by their state boards of medicine.

The report also sought to dispel the myth that frivolous medical-malpractice lawsuits are driving doctors out of business. Public Citizen said data shows payouts generally fit the severity of the injury, with about 64 percent going to compensate for death or significant injuries, and less that 2 percent going to payouts in the Data Bank’s categories for “insignificant” or “emotional” injuries.

Read all of it here.

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