Sunday, April 22, 2012

Frivolous Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Targeted by Medical Justice

Whistleblower readers know my views on the perverse and dysfunctional medical liability system. I have read numerous plaintiff lawyers’ blogs, and those of other tort reform opponents, to better understand the issue from other perspective. As a physician, I bring bias to the issue, as do all the players in the game. After 20 years of thought, and some legal brushfires, I am persuaded that the medical profession has the better argument. I also do not believe that we physicians are as strident and ideological as the other side is, but perhaps this is simply because this gastroenterologist has a jaundiced view of the issue. For example, most physicians readily admitted that our health care system, before Obama and the Democrats cured it, had serious deficiencies that demanded reform. In contrast, rarely do I hear or read plaintiffs’ attorneys remarking that the medical liability system needs some healing. What I read in their columns and postings is a spirited defense of the status quo. When a physician like me points out flaws in medicine, as I have done throughout this blog, this is an attempt to improve our profession and public health. Indeed, physicians on blogs and in medical journals write openly and often about where our profession is falling short. Reflection and self-criticism are ingrained in the culture of the medical profession. If a plaintiff’s lawyer were to publicly advocate medical malpractice reform, then I suspect he would be shunned for his blasphemous utterance, or banished to the gulag for some re-education.

In my tort reform meanderings through the blogosphere, I stumbled upon Medical Justice (MJ), a company that is devoted to protecting physicians against the abuses of the medical liability regime. This organization aims to:

  • Prevent frivolous litigation from being filed against a member physician
  • Attack internet defamation of physicians’ reputations
  • Hold medical ‘expert’ witnesses accountable
I was intrigued and reached out to them to learn more about their enterprise. When a member physician is unfairly sued, MJ gets into the other side’s face to alert them that their national organization is squarely behind the doctor. This puts the plaintiff and the opposing medical experts on notice that their actions will be scrutinized and held accountable. There is a yearly charge for membership, which depends upon the amount of protective service the practitioner desires.

Some of MJ’s services require the physician and the patient to sign certain agreements, which I think would be problematic for doctors to implement. While I understand why a physician would desire a signed agreement that would protect his interest, I am less certain why a patient would do so. In addition, such a discussion might erode the doctor-patient relationship.

Thus far, they have over 2000 physician members and are in a strong growth phase. I think their fees are reasonable, a fraction of what I pay each year for my medical malpractice insurance. If even one lawsuit is prevented, it would be worth a decade or two of MJ membership charges. I wish them well and encourage Whistleblower readers to visit their site and their very fine blog.

In fairness, I should disclose my relationship with this organization. Admit it; you already think I’m an MJ shill, right? You suspect that I have a ‘pay for click’ arrangement with them. I must get a kickback for every Whistleblower reader who signs up. Here is the arrangement I have with them, which I disclose publicly.

I am not an MJ physician member and they pay me nothing. They didn’t ask for this blog post and the only reward they might offer me is gratitude for having done so. Keep reading because I now must confess a potentially corrupt act as my conscience is torturing me. I did have lunch with their Cleveland rep months ago who rejected my offer to grab the tab and paid for my meal, which cost about 10 bucks. Readers must now weigh and decide if my integrity can be compromised for a free meal.

MJ added me to their blogroll for the usual reasons; they liked my Whistleblower tort reform content. I am plugging them for free because they are the only folks I’ve discovered who want to put a few arrows in our quiver so our unfair fight will be a little less unfair.

I expect that MJ’s services will grow and become more refined as the company matures. If they are successful, then medical malpractice carriers might be willing to subsidize physicians’ membership costs.

With so many out there stabbing us in the back, it’s refreshing to have an organization that’s watching our back.

6 comments:

Sara Mackey said...

Doctors should not be sued for the smallest things. That's one of the big reasons healthcare is so expensive anymore, and that's depressing. http://reallycheaphealthinsurance.com/

Anonymous said...

I fail to see how intimidating expert witnesses increases the "justice" you seek.

You're full of criticisms, Dr. Kirsch, but you and the rest of the physician community only come up with one solution in legislatures - arbitrarily deciding the maximum value of cases regardless of the harm caused. Or, as with "Medical Justice", intimidating expert witnesses which are already hard enough to come by. The plaintiff doesn't care what you think.

The truth is that no matter how egregious the malpractice, most physicians wouldn't dare testify against a colleague. If that's the "justice" you're trying to preserve, well, that says more about you than anything.

Power Wheelchairs said...

Doctors should not be sued for the smallest things. That's among the big factors medical is so expensive anymore, and additionally that's depressing.

Anonymous said...

" That's among the big factors medical is so expensive"

This is patently false. Even if you factor in the costs of insurer overhead, what they pay their execs, etc. and don't consider that many of the dollars in award go back into the system, you still don't even come up to 10% of the total cost of healthcare.

Doctors aren't sued for "the smallest things". You have to have a pretty grievous injury to make it cost effective to pursue a malpractice case.

Lift chair recliners said...

The truth would be that basically no matter just how egregious the malpractice, many doctors wouldn't dare testify against a colleague. If that's the "justice" you're trying to protect, well, which states a lot more about you than anything.

Anonymous said...

The best correction or alteration to protect from various forms of unscrupulous malpractice is a no fault system similar to the one used in Europe.

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