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Posts Tagged ‘tort reform’

Tort reform

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September 14th, 2009 Posted 1:49 pm

As the health care debate continued in Bizarreville, the discussion eventually turned to Tort Reform.  Truth is, the people of Bizarreville were definitely sue-happy…it was almost an official pastime where the mayor would throw out the first whiffle ball at the opening of sue season.  Seems everybody would look for any excuse to sue their friend, neighbor, or (especially) doctor in order to get something for nothing:  “Why work and slave when you can just sue your buddy, get a rich out-of-court settlement, and kick back on the back porch with with a pitcher of margaritas?”  Made sense.

But, in spite of this seemingly ideal state of things, there was a semi-lunatic fringe element bellowing about how all this was causing Health Care costs to skyrocket.  Malpractice insurance was getting so high that many doctors just said Screw It, and bailed.  One doctor got sued for $1 million because some lady’s hang nail got infected, causing her months and months of mental anguish.  The doctor replied, “I was treating you for a swollen ankle!”  But the lady said, “You should have noticed the hang nail.  That’s the trouble with you so-called ‘specialists’.”

The Legislators tried to put an Amendment on the Health Care bill to place limits on malpractice claims, which also included strict guidelines on what was/wasn’t covered.  It would no longer recognize pain/suffering claims, would limit coverage to out-of-pocket expenses, and put strong burden of proof on the claimant to show cause that a case was truly malpractice.  It would save hundreds of gazillions of dollars in phony baloney claims and bogus legal proceedings.

The legal lobby strongly objected.  The powerful Ambulance Chasers International (ACI) decried that this would give doctors free-rein to run rough-shod over our poor patients, do slip-shod meatball surgery at will, forget to take the forceps out of grammaw’s tummy after her gall bladder-ectomy.  They rolled-in poor Mr. Shlumbunk to the hearing who had gone to the hospital for a skin irritation, and ended up mistakenly getting his full package cut off by some renegade doctor, whose only comment was: “Ooops”. 

“Patients need to have recourse on these mavericks.”  And there were boatloads of hound dog lawyers ready to sniff out any crevice to make a case.  And sniff they did.  Sniff, sniff, sniff…

Meanwhile, the Doctors were appalled by these ACI loudmouth charges, and sued the lawyers over defamation of character.  But they couldn’t get any lawyers to try their case, so they filed another suit about restraint of trade/monopolistic practices.  The lawyers counter-sued when the doctors threatened: “Yeah, well, in the unlikely event that you can find an MD who will treat you, better be prepared for a full body cavity examination.”  Ouch.

The Legislators dropped Tort Reform amendments.  They realized that suing each other was just too central to the Bizarreville culture.  Plus, the lawyers were such great contributors to their political campaigns…much better than those stingy old penny-pinching doctors who threw quarters around like they were manhole covers.