For most, the term "tort reform" is empty and meaningless. But here's what it means: taking away the legal rights of patients, injured through no fault of their own, and preventing them from obtaining legal recourse.
Trial lawyers are a widely-despised lobby. Yet courts remain the only way individual Americans can redress grievances against the rich and powerful; they are a great leveler, and limits have had perverse effects.
Right now, sophisticated patients can look up on the Internet a doctor's basic credentials and lawsuit history but not much more. With a "no patient left behind" system of mandatory report cards, patients could comparison-shop for doctors based on what's important: not price but quality.
Many doctors practice in fear of litigation. Some argue this leads to "defensive medicine": medical practices designed to avert the future possibility of malpractice suits, rather than to benefit the patient.