Issues facing America: Medical liability reform

By James Genuario, MD, MS; Samir Mehta, MD, and the Washington Health Policy Fellows

The U.S. healthcare system is broken, say both political pundits and healthcare insiders. Although the United States spends more on health care than any other nation, millions of people are uninsured, Medicare reimbursements threaten to spiral down, and access to care for millions is threatened. The “access to care” issue, in part, is a direct reaction to the increased liability threat that patients and their attorneys pose. As a result, healthcare reform is one of the most debated issues during the current presidential race.

According to William M. Sage, author of Medical Malpractice and the U.S. Health Care System, “American health care today sits at the intersection of a perceived epidemic of medical injuries and medical malpractice crisis. The concern over medical errors has brought demands for increased regulation in the interest of patient safety, including regulation through the tort system, but rising professional liability costs have created strong political pressure to decrease malpractice litigation.”

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