Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Monday, October 27, 2003

"Hey Doc, I've Got This Pain In My Ass..."

Wanna know why Doctor's get sued? Besides the obvious reasons (pure incompetence or malfeasance) Doctors get sued because have a propensity to be arrogant jerks. They nearly dare people to sue them. They treat customers (that's what patients are, after all) like they are morons. And, they are totally beholden to insurance companies. Want a straight answer about something medical? Don't ask a doctor! They'll quote you the following statistics; "33% of people will have some reaction to this medication, 33% will have no reaction and 33% will have a violent reaction." Helpful as hell. I honestly don't know who you're supposed to ask.

They are loathe to be honest and direct...and did I mention the arrogance?

Now, the conventional wisdom about all this subtrifuge is that medical malpractice awards are "forcing doctors out of business" because juries are giving excessive awards to plaintiffs. The truth is, of course, far more complicated. First off, when did it become fashionable to loathe our "trial by a jury of your peers" system of justice? Because that is essentially what anyone who is on the "tort reform" side of the fence is doing; they are bashing our system of justice and making it clear that they do not trust a jury of 12 to make an informed decision based on the facts presented. My questions is this; if we can't trust a jury in a med-mal case, than how can we trust them with anything? If you make the assumption that the jury system is fatally flawed, then you'd better have a good explanation about what you're going to replace it with. Do the neocons and the corporations behind this movement want all cases simply heard before a judge? Maybe. They figure they can stoke courts with "their own" and turn law on its ear. By the way, it cracks me up to hear The Right talk about "liberal activist judges" making law, while all they really want is a bunch of "conservative idealogues" making law.

No. I believe doctors are just getting their due. While plaintiff's lawyers may get rich off their mistakes, that does not mean that the mistakes were not made, or that someone who is maimed for life should not get a hefty settlement. Doctors have long been able to hide behind an almost inpenetrable barrier. And while things like M & M meetings serve a useful purpose, they also tend to perpetuate a system of secrecy and lack of accountability. Doctors have even battled against improving drug prescription processes (which could help elimate the needless deaths of thousands each year) simply because they don't want to bother learning something new or dealing with a new technology. No, the bottom line here is that we need to smack the medical profession upside the head. Stop treating them like gods and a lot more like garage mechanics.