Doctor Critiques Peter Orszag’s Med Mal Fix

A medical expert and Florida gastroenterologist, Perry Hookman, MD has challenged a recent Op-Ed piece by former Obama Administration budget director Peter Orszag. Dr. Hookman notes that medical guidelines are not the problem as Orszag suggested. Rather, Hookman argues, certain medical guidelines are biased and not designed to improve patient safety but rather to shield doctors from liability when medical errors occur.
Hookman believes that diagnostic errors are the real culprit for medical errors and the resulting medical malpractice claims. In a recent talk in San Francisco Dr. Hookman related the following figures:
“Of 1,137 malpractice cases between 2005 and 2009, diagnostic errors-not evidence based guideline adherence- accounted for 26% of large carriers [Crico/Rmf] claims.”*

• Among the 456 “high severity” cases that resulted in serious patient harm or death, nearly half were diagnostic errors” errors-not problems with evidence based guideline adherence*

• “Cases linked to diagnostic errors appear to be on the rise as primary care doctors, struggling with heavy case loads, take shortcuts or do not act on their patient’s symptoms”.*

• Medical professionals and organizations are finding lessons in closed malpractice cases which “are reflective of deeply rooted problems that are widespread in health care.” *

• “By analyzing the breakdowns in care that led to missed, delayed or incorrect diagnoses, health-care providers must develop programs to avert mistakes commonly found in these medical malpractice claims.*

Holly Haines