My solution to medical malpractice crisis
If you live in Illinois, you’ve heard about the debate in the State Senate on medical malpractice rates. It seems that doctors are leaving the state due to high malpractice insurance rates. Predictably, the insurance industry and the AMA say that awards should be capped, while patient advocacy groups say that hospitals and the law need to do more to weed out incompetent doctors.
They’re both only a little bit right.
There are certainly absurd damage awards, but also incompetent doctors, and even greedy insurance companies who blame equally greedy patients. And the law, in its clumsy way, could make some kind of rough correction to it all. Might I suggest a different model? How about eBay’s feedback system?
If you have not used eBay, here’s how it works: buyers comment on their experience with sellers, and sellers get a rebuttal comment (if they want one). The total percentage of good and bad comments is openly displayed, and prospective buyers can peruse the seller’s total library of comments.
Doctors, hospitals, and clinics are sellers; patients are buyers.
The system is rather brutal, but it would weed out the bad doctors faster than you could yell “Falling malpractice insurance rates.” No legislator would have to lift a finger; in just a few months, a pattern would begin to emerge. Layers of official denial and obfuscation would be stripped away to open up the truth about which doctors had satisfied patients and which did not.
Every doctor has some dissatisfied patients, along with some irrational devotees, and readers could judge the credibility of those patients’ claims. A legal framework of protection would have to be built for the comment system to ensure patients (buyers) have the opportunity to speak freely. If a patient is really off-base, the doctor has the option of responding with a rebuttal comment if he wants. In any case, the computer-generated percentage reflects the totality of all patients.
Most attractive feature for me: doctors, clinics, hospitals, lawyers, and the insurance industry would all hate it.