When triggered by the desire to reduce unwarranted variation in practice and provide patients with benchmark quality care, adherence to clinical guidelines can often improve patient safety. But turning guidelines into legal standards would be bad for both patients and doctors.
Medical malpractice costs are a flash point for physicians and malpractice trial lawyers, each side claiming their solutions must be heeded to avoid potential disaster for patients and our health care delivery system.
If Rep. Paul Ryan mentions health care at all on Tuesday, it is likely be the same old same old. After all, if they had any new ideas that could actually cut costs and improve quality, wouldn't we have heard about them already?
Even when you remove litigation as a factor, the extent of tests and procedures that are ordered do not change. Enacting "tort reform" will continue to fail as a solution to this country's health care problems.
There are many changes going on in the health care system at this very moment, and you may not hear much about them -- in fact, you probably won't -- but these changes are ultimately going to improve health care delivery.
Despite promises from Republicans to repeal the health care reform law, they can't do it. Even if the Senate agreed with the House and passed a repeal bill, President Obama would veto it. But what about death by a thousand cuts?
This is the fork in the road for the Senate's Democratic leaders: they must choose between the tort lawyers and a health care bill that could re-unite a country that has turned against the present bill.
When a person is injured by a defective product, a verdict for the plaintiff not only compensates that person for the injuries sustained, but hopefully causes the defendant and others to take corrective action.