The medical malpractice reforms are founded on the defensive medicine costs vs. Tort Reforms that is used in the determination of whether the various federal reforms are prone to offer significant decrements in the costs of healthcare nationally. In this regard, defensive medicine entails the additional elaborate procedures and tests conducted by physicians with the objective of reducing the medical malpractice liability risks. As such this has been alleged to increase the costs of healthcare, in addition to the numerous claims occurring yearly. As such, malpractice payments capping is amongst the practices that have been introduced to reduce the premiums development. Studies have disclosed that in states that were capping awards had 17.1% lower payments compared to states that did not cap the awards (Wakefield, 2015). Nevertheless, it has not to be established whether such are actual solutions to the challenge and whether they promote the US liability system’s goals.
Malpractice is derived from Latin language and the word ‘mala praxis,’ and was coined by Sir William Blackstone in 1765 in one of his many Commentaries regarding the English Laws (Born, Karl & Montesinos‐Yufa, 2018). According to Sir Blackstone, inappropriate care or negligence by a medical practitioner is a mala praxis, and which can be classified as a private wrong but not a contract (Born, Karl & Montesinos‐Yufa, 2018). As from the development and documentation of the mala praxis, many legal suits have been filed leading to the discourse on whether there have been crises as a result of malpractices and whether reforms are necessary. Nevertheless, at the federal level, the medical malpractice reforms are deemed as beneficial to patient care and are prone to enhance the bottom line healthcare costs (Stimson, 2016).
Advancements in Medicine
The advancements in medicine that were witnessed during the 19th century not only led to sturdy scientific foundations in the field of medicine but also resulted in physicians seeing themselves as visionaries. However, the progress in the medical technology and surgery came with novel risks for the physicians in the course of eliminating the kinks and finding the apt method for diverse issues (Chatterji, Li & Marschke, 2018). The number of lawsuits concerning Medical Malpractice Litigation rose exponentially given that medicine was in the initial growth phases. The 1900s witnessed a 300% rise in Malpractice Litigation, which was the highest since documentation of Medical Malpractice (Seabury, Helland & Jena, 2014). The increase was attributed to critical changes within the field of medicine including aspects such as administration, technology, and reporting, as well as specialists’ formalization as doctors who handle all types of situations (Born, Karl & Viscusi, 2017). A more significant proportion of the Malpractice lawsuits mainly resulted from the dearth of understanding with regards to contracts, the misconception of treatments offered, as well as confusion with regards to the implication of negligence. Such are the causes of the reforms cycles in the US Medical Malpractice legal system, particularly at the state level.
Components of Medical Liability Costs
When considering the estimated spending and/or total for Medical Malpractice is between $55-$56 billion annually. (Mello, 2015). For what areas that can be measured and articulated in financial terms are separated into the following different categories: Insurance payments, administrative expenses, which is mainly attorneys’ fees and other legal expenses for both parties in the debate, insurer overhead, and defensive medicine costs, which are the costs of medical services ordered principally for the purpose of diminishing the physician’s liability danger. (Mello, 2015). Of course, there are other costs, some of which are almost impossible to calculate in monetary terms or be able to report on.
When considering the monetary value associated with Medical Malpractice, we must also reflect the emotional and mental damages that come with litigation. During a personal interview with Dr. David Nathan, Neurosurgeon affiliated with local hospitals in Salt Lake City, Utah; he stated, “Medical Malpractice lawsuits are what keep me up at night. I am constantly having to think of new ways to cover myself professionally, the hospitals in which I am operating at and representing, as well as balancing what is in the best interest of my patient medically. It’s a very fine line to walk.” (Nathan 2018). Neurosurgery is one of the largest liabilities within healthcare for Medical Malpractice, because of their risk-involving surgeries. It is also among the highest paid premiums for the physicians themselves, second to Obstetrics. With this insight on a personal level, it’s very compelling when making decisions towards improvements. As physicians grow more paranoid and dive further into the exercise of defensive medicine, the argument for reforms become increasingly necessary to the success of our healthcare system. By adding extra reforms such as caps on claims, safe holds for testimonies, and proof of negligence it allows physicians the ability to practice in a less stressful environment which in turn will work in favor of patient care. (Nathan, 2018). When thinking of ways to reform Medical Malpractice, the common theme is among reforms in favor of both the patient and the physician. Tort Reforms are a highly encouraged by both parties and work in favor of everyone as a whole.
An increment in the medical malpractice litigations still occurs today. In this regard, some states have enacted many diverse legislative actions known as “tort reforms.” These take in the elimination of lawsuits where the individual is not required to pay out in case the defendants do not have resources to pay, in addition to the use of the employees’ compensations and health insurance in awarding given kinds of claims. Thus, the lawyers’ fees are limited, and the duration following an injury that a case may be heard is also limited (Popescu, 2015). Comparable reforms have also been presented to the federal government with the objective of bringing about federal level reforms. Though each state has a different medical negligence lawsuit filing guidelines, a number as due to tort reforms, even though the request for an affidavit from a physician in comparable specialty, attesting to the validity and accuracy of the case before filing is common to all states. Such rules have shaped the lawsuits relating to Medical Malpractice, resulting in procedural orders being taken on a case by case basis. Moreover, more physicians have noted that due to the reforms, they are not only forced to conduct risky lifesaving practices but also feel safe in the profession.
Presently, the United States spends $55 billion yearly on the medical liability system. (Mello, 2010). This is, however, lower than the estimates of diverse discourses even though it signifies a smaller percentage of the overall health care expenditure. Nevertheless, the figure is significant, and the political address of this might be substantial. Reforms offering the prospect of minimizing such costs have the potential of lowering the general healthcare spending. Reforms in the healthcare system at the federal level is prone to deliver more significant opportunities for improving patient care outcomes. Moreover, states that have capped the Medical Malpractice claims implies increased hesitation in pursuing an undeserved claim, creation of the recurring counterbalances, as well as lowering the overall insurance payouts and reducing the double payment of the various medical bills.