Tens of thousands of people die each year from preventable medical errors. But rather than reform the medical system to prevent needless deaths and injuries, the health care and insurance industries, as well as the Chamber of Commerce are lobbying to limit the rights of injured patients to seek full recovery in the courts.
They claim that their brand of "tort reform" will bring down costs and improve medical care. But the opposite is true. Ignoring patient safety and restricting patients' fundamental legal rights will only further burden the health care system. Additional injuries caused by malpractice adds to the nation's mounting health care costs. Meanwhile, the wrongdoers are let off the hook because patients can no longer hold them accountable. If we, as individuals, are likely be held responsible for bad acts that harm others, medical providers should be held to the same or even higher standards.
We must also address the real crisis - a lack of attention to patient safety and physician oversight. Business, insurers and the medical lobby should invest their considerable resources in real health care and insurance reforms that will protect patients and reduce the incidence of medical error.