- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In his article “Democrats pay for ducking health insurance” (Opinion, Saturday), Martin Schramm was correct to point out how the defects in the malpractice system force doctors to practice defensively by ordering tests they don’t feel are needed just to protect themselves in case a suit is filed.

Not only does this raise the cost of heath care tremendously, but it also subjects patients to risky procedures. Sometimes the tests that are ordered are inconclusive and lead to further testing. The results can be confusing and futile, making patients’ care not only expensive but also wasting their, as well as doctors’, time.

Physicians expect patients who have suffered from true medical negligence to be compensated reasonably and fairly. But doctors should be treated fairly, too. Having special “screening panels” that look closely at allegations of malpractice and weed out those of no merit and thus prevent frivolous malpractice suits is one way to solve the problem.

Another way of solving the problem would be to have special health panels presided over by judges with special training in malpractice. This would eliminate the need for drawn-out and costly litigation. Right now, about one-half of the costs of a malpractice suit go to pay for attorney and legal fees.

Scandinavia uses a workers’ compensation-type plan. Some states like Texas and California pay for all the medical injuries but place limits on nonmedical damages.

Anything is better than doing nothing.

EDWARD J. VOLPINTESTA

Bethel, Conn.

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