The Current Debate
At both the state and federal level, politicians continue to discuss measures to manage the quantity of medical malpractice cases in the system, and the money awarded in a verdict.
However, specifically in New York State, new malpractice lawsuits have been filed at effectively a flat rate for several years, while awards in such cases have risen at a rate equal to medical inflation. Moreover, New York has one of the highest number of physicians per capita in the country. Therefore, the legislature needs to refocus the debate on more specific issues pertaining to patient safety:
- The need to properly discipline physicians in New York, as no system is currently in place.
- Altering the policies that affect reimbursement rates provided by health insurance providers, as these drastically cut into the financial well-being of hospitals and physicians. These policies overwork health care practitioners, affecting the way they work with patients.
- Fixing a system which protects (and subsidize the insurance for) the worst doctors in the state – those who are commercially uninsurable – allowing them to continue to practice and harm their patients while good doctors are forced to add the costs of that harm to their own insurance premiums.
- The need to recognize that if bad physicians stopped harming their patients, malpractice premiums would drop precipitously.
Actions that remove the ability of average citizens, harmed by a physician, to seek accountability and redress for that harm are unacceptable. Additionally, accountability needs to continue in a profession that has little, if any, governmental oversight. Instead, politicians need to implement solutions that end avoidable errors in the first place and reduce the incidence of malpractice.