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July 2006 Archives

Medical malpractice reform--a different approach.

The public debate over reforming the medical-malpractice legal system has long focused on extreme positions. Health-care providers and insurers call for a revamping of the entire system by capping damages and creating an administrative system of "health courts." Victims-rights advocates, including plaintiff's lawyers, argue that the present system works fine and no reform is necessary. It now appears that a middle ground may be emerging that can reduce litigation costs and permit a faster resolution of malpractice claims. How-by encouraging honesty by health care providers when unforeseen outcomes occur and making early settlement offers and apologizing when injuries are caused by medical negligence.

Computerized prescriptions recommended to reduce medication errors.

Medication errors injure over $1.5 million Americans each year, according to a report of the Institute of Medicine released on July 20, 2006. The report further found that 400,000 of those medical-error injuries occur in hospitals and that, on average, a hospital patient is subjected to one medication error daily. Although not included in the report, other experts estimate that as many as 9,000 deaths are caused each year by medication errors. To eliminate a large portion of these medical mistakes, the report recommends that hand-written prescriptions be replaced with a computerized system by which physicians would prescribe medications and pharmacies would receives those prescription electronically.

Report on medical malpractice reforms in reveals that Pennsylvanians are not losing their doctors.

Physician groups and liability insurance companies continue to claim that that Pennsylvania's medical malpractice legal liability system is driving doctors out of the state. In spite of reforms enacted by both the Legislature and Supreme Court in 2002, these proponents of tort reform argue that more needs to be done to reduce medical malpractice insurance premiums to stop the "exodus" of doctors. However, a recent report commissioned and funded by the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) reveals that many of the claims of tort reformers are simply untrue.

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