Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

Related Topics

Medical Malpractice
The medical system is on the point of abandoning the city to escape abusive lawsuits. A series of observations about shared blame, ultimately assigns responsibility to the mistake of allowing this matter to be covered by insurance, thus creating a financial target.

Philadelphia Legal Scene
The American legal profession grew up in this town, creating institutions and traditions that set the style for everyone else. Boston, New York and Washington have lots of influential lawyers, but Philadelphia shapes the legal profession.

Sorry, But This May Hurt a Little

Dentist Tooth

Quite beyond sociological curiosity about what makes one patient sue when many seemingly identical ones do not, is the alarming potential of indemnifying them all. If the tort system already generates unsupportable costs from a small sample, extending those costs manyfold defies all prediction. Something like this happened in asbestos litigation, and that industry seems utterly destroyed. We will later list this issue among the areas most in need of more reliable data, not jibes and denials. Lacking that, concepts of no-fault or alternative dispute resolution must definitely be restrained from going forward. If ninety or more percent of medical injuries are accepted by the patients as simply inevitable in a highly complex system of well-trained professionals doing their best to avoid harm, that is gratifying to hear until the consequences are examined. Take away the courtroom's implication of blame, and almost all such cases would come forward to request what society then declares is their just compensation. That would be an entitlement to end all entitlements.

Originally published: Wednesday, July 05, 2006; most-recently modified: Wednesday, June 05, 2019