GUEST COLUMNIST: Abusive lawsuits hindering doctors in the field

Monday, August 31, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:03 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

If President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are really listening to your concerns, they would stop their quest for a government takeover of our health care system and start over again and accept bipartisan input for real health care reform.

While there are many flaws in the current proposal trying to be rushed through Congress, one of the issues that has gotten very little attention is the issue of abusive lawsuit reform, also known as tort reform. We can all agree there is a need for health care reform in this country, and tort reform should be part of any real discussion about making improvements to our health care delivery system.

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By reforming abusive lawsuits, we will level the playing field in our courtrooms so doctors can provide medical care for their patients without the paralyzing fear of frivolous lawsuits or runaway personal injury awards.

Doctors across the country are practicing defensive medicine, which means in many cases they are being forced to order more and more costly, unneeded tests because of the very real fear they will have to protect themselves against the frivolous claim they did not do enough to protect and treat a patient.

The bottom line is that doctors and the hospitals in which they work should have the resources available to serve their patients without spending precious resources and time in courtrooms fighting frivolous medical claims.

Rather than making cautious investments in excessive amounts of insurance and extortionate payouts to personal injury lawyers, abusive lawsuit reform would free our nation’s doctors and health care providers to invest in improvements to our health care system.

These improvements would include hiring new doctors and buying advanced equipment that would help better meet the health care needs of their patients and our nation. As the debate on health care reform continues, I believe it is essential that abusive lawsuit reform is part of this very important discussion.

Blaine Luetkemeyer is the representative for Missouri's Ninth Congressional District.



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April Dent November 18, 2009 | 2:45 p.m.

Tort reform is helpful if we can get enough doctors willing to practice medicine instead of trying to practice law. Requireing patients to undergo unnecessary tests could potentially lead to more law suits. While I worked at United Health Care back in 2005, I saw alot of unnecessary fees coming from doctors to UHC for payment. Alot of it is just plain carelessness on the doctors part, and not necessarilly fear of being sued.


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