Monday, January 05, 2004

Doctor: improve Patient Safety to reduce malpractice costs

The current medical liability system works poorly for patients and physicians. Steep increases in malpractice premiums lead to physicians practicing "defensive medicine," which in turn contributes to rising health care costs, in addition to patients' enduring unnecessary medical procedures. Meanwhile, large numbers of Americans continue to suffer preventable medical injuries.
"Physicians must use their abilities to make care safer and injuries rarer, by developing, evaluating, and implementing safety improvements," said Stephen C. Schoenbaum, M.D., senior vice president at the Commonwealth Fund. "More active work on the part of physicians to improve care and reduce harm is clearly in the best interest of the public and physicians."
Physicians must play an active role in developing and implementing systems to improve patient safety, according to an article published in the Jan. 6 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
In "Malpractice Reform Must Include Steps to Prevent Medical Injury," The Commonwealth Fund and the Urban Institute say that focusing solely on capping malpractice awards -- the solution most commonly promoted by physicians in the current debate -- leaves out the largest problem: patient injury.

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