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Monday, September 27, 2010

A Thoughtful Man

I recently read a commentary by Dr. Manoj Jain in the Washington Post about the impact of malpractice on the way we practice.  Dr. Jain has become a physician leader in the arena of quality improvement and he writes honestly about the spiritual jolt every physician feels when they receive news of a malpractice lawsuit or even a potential lawsuit.

"I stood, stunned. My white coat, which held the daily tools of my profession -- my list of patients, the Sanford antibiotic manual, a black stethoscope -- felt extraordinarily heavy."

He relates the statistics all physicians know so well-that most suits (>80%) involve NO malpractice and also that injury that results from medical negligence (98%) never result in a malpractice case.  Before concluding he reminds us about the cost of this errant system.

"A lawsuit threatens my livelihood. It alters my judgment; it's like the difference between the "right thing to do" and the "politically right thing to do." Surveys of physicians conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that 80 percent practice "defensive medicine," ordering extra tests that some say add billions annually to our health-care expenditure."

I wish more conversations about liability reform could maintain this civil, thoughtful analysis rather than the usual hyperbolic rhetoric.
Dr. Manoj Jain

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