Tort reform can kill legitimate medical malpractice lawsuits: Part 1

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A recent article by the Associated Press discusses some unintended and troubling consequences of tort reform. In order the try to cut down on frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits, state legislators in Connecticut voted to make it more difficult to bring a case against a doctor or other health care practitioner who made a mistake.

The law requires a person to submit an opinion letter from a doctor with the same background as the doctor who made the mistake with the lawsuit that agrees that the doctor made an error.

Laws like this are in place around the country, but a similar law was declared unconstitutional in Ohio because a person who couldn’t afford the thousands of dollars to hire an expert to review a case and write an opinion letter could keep medical malpractice cases with merit out of court.

One case highlighted by the AP involves a mother with an incompetent cervix who had consulted with Yale medical experts about her high risk pregnancy and had told her doctors to turn her care over to the experts and follow their treatment plan in order to make sure she didn’t lose her child as she had lost an earlier child to miscarriage. She says the doctors agreed to do this, but broke their agreement, and the child ultimately died.

The next post will continue to discuss this issue.

Source: Seattle PI, “Conn. law nixing legitimate malpractice lawsuits,” Dave Collins, Associated Press, Jan. 8, 2012

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