Thursday, July 30, 2009

Healthcare: Let's Start With Tort Reform

While Washington gripes about the rising cost of healthcare, they are neglecting to address one critical cause of skyrocketing prices: frivolous lawsuits.

The halls of Congress are chock full of lawyers. Do you think they'll ever address the issue of their buddies filing frivolous lawsuits? I'd expect Obama to return to Reaganomics first.

An underclass of people has developed in this country. Their mission? To get as much money as possible for blaming someone else. Personal responsibility has fallen by the wayside, and honest people are left picking up the tab (again).

If a doctor advises a course of treatment that you choose not to follow, how is it the fault of the doctor? While grossly negligent malpractice (amputating the wrong limb, etc.) deserves its day in court, there is none for the people who sue their doctor because they have a scar after surgery. How is a doctor to win in a case like that? Let them possibly die or face litigation over a scar; that's their double-edged sword.

Here are a few examples of frivolous medical lawsuits that have made the Stella Awards Case Log. The award was named after Stella Liebeck, the New Mexico woman who spilled hot coffee in her lap and successfully sued McDonald's for an undisclosed amount. These will make you sick. Thank Heaven you don't have to wait for treatment.

  • Obese, cigarette-smoking woman with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a family history of coronary artery disease suffers the expected heath problems associated with those risk factors. Why? Because her doctors didn't force her to change her habits! She sues for $1 million.
  • Women sue doctors and hospital for "Needless Infliction of Emotional Distress" because they witnessed doctors rushing to aid their very ill mother. Had their case succeeded (it went all the way up to the California Supreme Court!), doctors and hospitals would have been forced to keep family members away anytime they are doing any sort of medical procedures which, let's face it, are often ugly to watch. They put your right to be there for your family members at risk.
  • Schoolboy running for bus runs into a teacher. She sues the 11-year-old, claiming he "negligently and carelessly" ran into her at an "excessive rate of speed," which caused "severe and multiple injuries".
  • Dying man eats a McDonald's burrito but can't take the spices in it. Wife, upset that she didn't get a refund or a free Happy Meal when she complained, decides to sue.
  • Woman claims a bad hair treatment at a salon was enough to cause her emotional distress, depression and to "shut down" so much that she was caused to retire early from her university teaching job and a side job -- and the jury buys it!
  • 375-pound woman steps on 53-year-old grave, which collapses under her weight. "I thought I was in a Stephen King movie," she says, which is apparently sufficient grounds for a lawsuit.
  • Man uses restroom stall in city building that doesn't have a door knob. When he sticks his hand through the hole, he gets hurt -- and, of course, sues. He wins almost $3 million. His occupation? City claims examiner.
  • Woman gets locked in a storage unit and didn't ever call out for help. She ended up being locked in the dark for 63 days. When she sued the storage company for $10 million, the jury wasn't allowed to hear why she didn't call out for help: she's mentally ill. They found in her favor, but were still so suspicious of her story they "only" awarded her $100,000.
  • Attorney cleaning his pool decides to knock palm frond from overhead electrical wires. When he's quite naturally electrocuted, his wife knows who's to blame: the electric company and the company who sold him the pool skimmer, of course!
These are just some of the reasons that healthcare and insurance premiums have gone into the stratosphere. Tort reform NEEDS TO HAPPEN regardless of whether Congress passes the Obamacare Socialized Medicine Act. Call your representatives and senators and tell them to vote against Obamacare and start pushing for tort reform. Their jobs depend on it.


LL said...

YES, there is need of tort reform, but you'll note that ObamaCare doesn't break the rice bowl of the attorneys. They are still able to sue the system (meaning the taxpayers) and win judgments from the national pot.

blackandgoldfan said...

LL: Someone somewhere along the line has to put an end to this. Unfortunately, Congress won't bite the hand that feeds it. They'll just screw us in the process. I have a real dislike for slimeball lawyers!

Dr. Dave said...

You won't have tort reform until we get the Republicans back in power. Unforunately the lawyers have such a stranglehold on the Zombies, they'll blame the Republicans for the health care industry's problems or say that the insurance industry is evil or that doctors are greedy.

Oh...wait...the Zombies are already doing that.

blackandgoldfan said...

Yes they are, Dr. Dave. It scares the ever-loving crap right out of me to think that some sleazeball attorney could force my great doctors into the poorhouse.

I went to my gynecologist today, and he is rated among the nation's top OB/GYN's according to the Consumer Research Council of America.

My PCP is also a great doc. He understands the financial problems patients may have. He's always giving me samples to save me a copay, and, when I had a wart, told me to treat it with duct tape instead of sending me to a dermatologist (the duct tape worked).

To lose these guys and others like them would be a sad day for the world of medicine.