From Colorado, and particularly the Durango Herald , we get to see firsthand one of the truly significant problems with tort “reform.” Its supporters are not intelligent. The dead giveaway comes when the writer expresses his outrage that doctors are now forced to practice defensive medicine, when they should be practicing “offensive” medicine.
Well, you see, that “offensive” medicine is exactly what too many doctors have been practicing for too many years, which is why tort “reform,” which shields doctors and hospitals from accountability for their offenses to patients, is not a wise idea. It is “offensive” when a surgeon operates at the wrong site because he was too busy to perform a preoperative time out to verify the spot with the surgical team. It is “offensive” when that misstep seriously injures or kills the same patient. And it is especially “offensive” when tort “reform” imposes arbitrary limits on the amount of awards to such victims of medical malpractice at trial, often preventing realistic compensation, and always robbing the jury of its power and right to assess each case on its own merits, and act accordingly.
Meanwhile, hospitals continue to value profit over patient welfare, and act–or fail to act–accordingly. The Pop Tort has a heartbreaking round up of stories on the failure of New Orleans-area hospitals to outfit their facilities properly with generators in anticipation of flooding. Along came Katrina, and patients on life-support died slow, agonizing deaths when the power failed, and could not be replicated by other sources. Offensive? As one of the least intelligent of the tort “reformers” likes to say, “You betcha!!