American health care is in crisis because of exploding medical malpractice litigation. Insurance premiums for doctors and malpractice lawsuits are skyrocketing, rendering doctors both afraid and unable to afford to practice medicine. Undeserving victims sue at the drop of a hat, egged on by greedy lawyers, and receive eye-popping awards that insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors themselves struggle to pay. The plaintiffs and lawyers always win; doctors, and the nonlitigious, always lose; and affordable health care is the real victim.
This, according to Tom Baker, is the myth of medical malpractice, and as a reality check he offers The Medical Malpractice Myth, a stunning dismantling of this familiar, but inaccurate, picture of the health care industry. Are there too many medical malpractice suits? No, according to Baker; there is actually too much medical malpractice, with only a fraction of the cases ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Is too much litigation to blame for the malpractice insurance crisis? No, for that we can look to financial trends and competitive behavior in the insurance industry. Point by point, Baker—a leading authority on insurance and law—pulls together the research that demolishes the myths that have taken hold and suggests a series of legal reforms that would help doctors manage malpractice insurance while also improving patient safety and medical accountability.
The Medical Malpractice Myth is a book aimed squarely at general readers but with radical conclusions that speak to the highest level of domestic policymaking.
In January 2005, President Bush declared the medical malpractice liability system "out of control." The president's speech was merely an echo of what doctors and politicians (mostly Republicans) have been saying for years-that medical malpractice premiums are skyrocketing due to an explosion in malpractice litigation. Along comes Baker, director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut School of Law, to puncture "the medical malpractice myth" with a talent for reasoned argument and incisiveness. He counters that the real problem is "too much medical malpractice, not too much litigation," and that the cost of malpractice is lost lives and the "pain and suffering of tens of thousands of people every year"-most of whom do not sue. Baker argues that the rise in medical premiums has more to do with economic cycles and the competitive nature of the insurance industry than runaway juries. Finally, Baker offers an alternative in the form of evidence-based medical liability reform that seeks to decrease the incidence of malpractice and also protect doctors from rising premium costs. Having worked with insurance companies, law firms and doctors, Baker brings experience and perspective to his book, which is sure to be important and controversial in future debates. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.