But I'd also recommend people read "The Malpractice Myth" by Tom Baker. Or this article I wrote on the topic. The great lie of the medical malpractice debate is that the crisis is in our courtrooms. It isn't. It's on our operating tables. Interestingly, Obama and Clinton once coauthored a pretty good article on this stuff. I summarize it in the piece.-Ezra Klein in his WaPO column 9/10/2009
The bold face was mine. You see, Ezra Klein feels strongly that we live in the dark ages of medicine and surgery. Especially in the United States. The crisis is on our operating tables, he says. If anything, goes the implication, we ought to be having more lawsuits, more litigation in this dangerous country which is apparently densely populated with incompetent, uncaring, hackjob surgeons and physicians.
I feel obligated to remind Mr. Klein of the following:
-95% of heart bypass surgery patients now walk out of the hospital alive and well.
-86% of liver transplant patients are alive 1 year after surgery
-Since 1980 the average American life expectancy has gone from 73 to 78
-With the development of HAART therapy, patients newly diagnosed as HIV positive patients can expect to live a normal lifespan
-Since the 1970's, the 30 day mortality rate associated with the Whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer has gone from 25% to less than 3%
-The five year survival of women diagnosed with breast cancer (including all stages) is about 76%
-Most surgeries for routine problems like cholecystitis and hernias and ovarian issues are treated with minimally invasive techniques on an outpatient basis
-Type I diabetics can now wear insulin pumps that provide a constant infusion of insulin, thereby reducing the number of shots and improving overall glucose control
-Anal cancer is now treated successfully by chemotherapy/radiation protocols, obviating the need for permanent colostomies
-Implantable electrodes in the brain allow patients stricken with Parkinson's to experience a much higher quality of life than that afforded by medications
-Critical care advances allow patients to walk out of hospitals, nearly fully recovered from pathologic insults that universally killed people a mere 30 years ago (perforated colon, bleeding ulcers, ARDS, acute renal failure, etc.)
-Trauma centers across the country routinely save victims of violence/accidents on a nightly basis
-When grandma gets pneumonia, it isn't a death sentence anymore
-Neonatal intensive care units are saving premature babies who weigh less than 1000 grams regularly and even babies less than 500 grams to a moderate degree
Yes, Ezra, it is a dangerous world we live in. Sequester yourself in that insulated little WaPo bubble as much as humanly possible, and stay far far away from doctors and hospitals---they want your lifesource!