Medical Malpractice Victims and the Tort Reform Debate

Victims of medical malpractice are making their voices heard to President Obama. In a letter to the president, as well as leaders in Congress, those who have had their lives altered forever write about their concerns over the rallying cry supporting tort reform. Tort reform means that people who are injured have fewer opportunities to bring their grievance to court. People like these.

In the letter, they urge the president to keep the tort reform debate out of the upcoming health care summit. When caps are imposed by states, limiting what someone who is injured can ever hope to collect to cover their lifetime of costs, a family is put into jeopardy. Many need some reimbursement just to survive. And a cap lessens the impact on the wrong-doer, allowing him or her to injure again. Public Citizen found that about five percent of doctors are responsible for the bulk of medical malpractice. Discipline of doctors is a disgrace.

For those who say there is no downside to tort reform, that is just nonsense. The authors of the letter say that being shut out of courts puts a burden on taxpayers since many have to turn to taxpayer-funded health and disability programs and Medicaid. And morally, it is kicking people when they are already down.

And it is estimated that even with tort reform, the savings are limited to about one-half of one percent of the total health care costs. With estimates of 100,000 to 200,000 Americans killed every year by medication errors, hospital infections, a failure to diagnose, wrong-site surgeries, among other things, medical malpractice takes a huge toll on all of our lives. Reducing accountability is a backward way to address the problem. Curtailing our way to the courtroom door is positively un-Americans as guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to our U.S. Constitution.