David Gray MD: Tort action impacts health care | SummitDaily.com

David Gray MD: Tort action impacts health care

David Gray MD

Mr. Pitcher says, “It should be noted that tort actions make up one half of 1 percent of the overall cost of health care.”

Mr. Pitcher, you can’t just throw out a statistic and then base your argument on that statistic. That number was put out by the Trial Lawyers Association, and it is both self-serving and very wrong! Try 40 percent.

As a physician, I know that every decision I make must include the realization that I may get sued in our current free-for-all system. Do you actually need that chest X-ray for your cough? Probably not, but I’ve been conditioned by knowledge that one of my colleagues was sued for not doing so, in a patient who developed lung cancer TWO YEARS LATER!

Forgive me for wanting to protect myself from that. It’s no problem for me to order a $175 chest X-ray – not for your sake, but for mine. As a physician, I’ve learned that if it can happen to one, it can happen to any of us.

As for taking legal action if a doctor “messes up” or “kills a loved one,” rational tort reform will not prevent you from that. Before tort reform in Texas, physicians prevailed 95 percent of the time in front of a jury. The expense – both in money, and in stomach-lining – for doctors to defend themselves to that point was staggering.

I truly believe that physicians, freed from practicing defensive medicine, can lower the cost of health care by 40 percent tomorrow.

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