Patient Safety and Tort Reform

Tort reform has been the goal of many so-called pro-business lobby groups for decades now. Their argument is always the same-limit the liability for medical errors and healthcare problems, including the cost of healthcare, will be solved. This argument has won some support in states across the country. Yet, in each and every instance it fails to take into account the true goal of healthcare, which is patient safety. My colleagues and I have blogged on this topic numerous times. None of these tort reform measures have improved the quality of healthcare or improved patient safety. In fact, during this time, patient safety has declined while medical errors continue unabated. Patient safety is the real issue. The universal protocols and standard operating procedures that have been advocated by patient advocates would indeed reduce healthcare costs. Medical errors increase the costs for all of us and severely impact the lives of thousands of patients who rely on a basic standard of care.

Real healthcare reform should focus on the quality of health services provided to the patient as well as a real, committed effort at improving patient safety.