- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Your editorial “Health care lawsuits” (Opinion, Wednesday) discussed a link between America’s soaring health care costs and medical malpractice claims.

The Congressional Budget Office established that all malpractice claims represent a tiny percentage (1 percent to 2 percent) of overall health care costs. Even if we were to eliminate every single medical malpractice lawsuit in the country, this would barely make a dent in terms of overall health care savings. Yet the cost of preventable medical errors, which kill up to 98,000 people in hospitals annually, is a whopping $17 billion to $29 billion each year.

As to your observation about lower malpractice insurance rates in states such as Illinois that impose one-size-fits-all caps on compensation for injured patients, the Department of Insurance and insurance companies themselves have said that insurance regulation — not caps — is what has increased competition and lowered rates there.

Ultimately, the way to reduce malpractice injuries, claims and lawsuits is to invest in patient safety and weed out the small number of doctors responsible for the malpractice - especially repeat offenders who should not be practicing.

ANDY HOFFMAN

Attorney and policy analyst

Center for Justice & Democracy

New York City

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