This blog has previously addressed research showing that preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in our country (See our 1/07/2017 blog entry). Instead of aggressively addressing the root of the problem (i.e., preventable medical errors), many legislators have advocated for tort reform to limit or prevent lawsuits that are filed as a result of these preventable medical errors. We at Rourke & Blumenthal never thought that made much sense. When the Affordable Care Act was passed, it included some government initiatives designed to address patient safety with the goal of reducing the number of preventable medical errors that cause so many serious and fatal injuries to patients. We are pleased to see that data recently released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) shows that these safety initiatives have saved 8,000 lives and $2.9 Billion in healthcare costs. See the attached press release for more details: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2018-Press-releases-items/2018-06-05-2.html
As lawyers representing patients and families harmed by medical negligence, we applaud these safety initiatives, but we still believe that more needs to be done to address patient safety in the healthcare industry. Initiatives designed to reduce preventable medical errors will save lives, reduce serious injuries and the exorbitant costs associated with these injuries, and ultimately reduce medical negligence lawsuits. Tort reform will never do anything to improve patient safety. In fact, tort reform has the opposite effect as it serves to eliminate one of the few deterrents to poor safety measures in our healthcare system. Hopefully legislators from all over the country will realize that taking measures to reduce preventable medical errors is the best way to address a huge problem in our healthcare system.