Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Dean and Malpractice

I posted a comment about Dean and medical malpractice on the official blog. Then I got some emails asking me to share Dean's statement. Here it is.

Here it is in a nutshell:
Vermont now has one of the lowest medical malpractice rates in the country. We protect the rights of patients, but our doctors do not face the crisis of rising insurance costs that confront doctors elsewhere.

Why is malpractice important to moms? Five little letters: ob/gyn. They can't afford the lawsuits. They are losing their malpractice insurance. They are quitting the profession. What are we supposed to do? C-section rates are rising again as doctors refuse to take risks. This is a horrible situation for doctors, moms and babies. It's becoming a crisis, especially in rural America. If the Democratic party nominates someone other than Howard Dean, someone who's campaign money has come from the pockets of trial lawyers, I foresee a vicious ad campaign next fall scaring people that they are going to lose their doctors if a "pawn of the trial lawyers is elected."

Dr. Dean explains his position:
As a physician, I understand the concerns doctors have with medical malpractice system. Faced with rapidly increasing insurance premiums, doctors are avoiding certain specialties, and many are leaving the medical profession altogether. This isn't good for patients or for the American health care system generally.

But access to the courts is a fundamental civil right for all Americans, and many patients receive compensation for their injuries through the justice system.

We need a medical malpractice system that works for both doctors and patients. Patients and their families should have recourse to legal remedies if they suffer injuries and are wronged. Doctors shouldn't be run out of business by soaring premiums or spend countless hours defending frivolous lawsuits.

The position page on Dean for America linked above lists some of the solutions to this crisis, but my favorite, typical of Dr. Dean's commonsense approach, is:
The Institute of Medicine found that thousands of patients die each year due to medical errors, many of which reflect system-wide problems instead of individual negligence. To reduce errors, we need to move from a culture of blame to a culture of safety in which the health care system learns from its mistakes. Reporting systems have had great success in the aviation industry. They can improve health care outcomes as well.

The burgeoning malpractice crisis is potentially far more dangerous and will cost many more lives than the threat of international terrorism. But it's not going to be an issue with the Democrats funded by trial lawyers or with Bush, whose campaign coffers are swollen is insurance company money.

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