December 27, 2012

How are medical malpractice reforms similar to efforts to ban assault weapons? There would seem to be no similarity, at first blush — whether you are “pro-gun rights” or “anti-gun,” you could not possibly be pro-medical malpractice, if you are rational. That’s because medical malpractice, by definition, is the failure to practice medicine at a level that the medical profession itself has established as the minimal (not necessarily the desirable) level of care necessary at the time and the place of  the medical care provided. If a medical provider failed to provide the minimal level of care required under the circumstances, no rational human being could possibly find the negligent wrongdoer not fully culpable and responsible for the harms that his/her failures caused the victim (patient) to suffer. Nonetheless, an increasing number of U.S. states are imposing onerous restrictions and irrational bans on the right of medical malpractice victims to obtain justice.

Proponents of an assault rifle ban claim that such a ban would result in less violent gun deaths in the United States (the argument: less guns would result in less violent gun incidents) . They also question the need for anyone to own let alone use an assault-type weapon for hunting, self-defense, target practice, or any recreational purpose.

Those opposing an assault weapons ban often cite their individual right to live free of unlawful restrictions on their rights and privileges under the law and fear the deterioration of other existing rights and freedoms if the government is allowed to impinge on their gun-ownership rights (the argument: once the government gets a major foothold in restricting gun ownership in the United States, it is only a matter of time before private ownership of guns is eliminated and the existing guns in the hands of the public are confiscated). The logic of either group is completely foreign and incomprehensible to the other.

The right to be free from medical errors and medical mistakes has been ingrained in the U.S. for many decades, until recently. About twenty years ago, the medical malpractice insurance rates charged by the major providers of medical malpractice insurance in certain larger population states in the U.S. suddenly and unexpectedly increased exponentially, in a concerted effort to raise premiums by the insurance companies. Physicians decried the rate hikes that occurred year after year and bought into the medical malpractice insurance companies’ explanation that the rise in rates was necessary due to “frivolous lawsuits” and ever-increasing, run-a-way jury awards in medical malpractice cases, despite the lack of evidence to support their explanation and the ever-increasing profits enjoyed by the insurance companies year after year.

The medical malpractice insurance companies’ strategy was to drive a wedge between doctors and their patients, causing physicians to unnecessarily and unjustifiably fear that their patients would sue them for no legitimate reason. The medical malpractice insurance companies also took advantage of patients’ fears, telling them that their doctors would soon leave their medical practices and the patients would be left without a source of necessary medical care, due to “frivolous lawsuits.” The fear-mongering strategies worked, despite later proof that the increase in medical malpractice insurance rates was due to ordinary and predictable business cycles and poor investments by the medical malpractice insurance companies.

Nonetheless, people were willing to give up their own rights, as well as the rights of others, to receive full compensation for all of their injuries and harms incurred solely as a result of bad medical care. No one seemed to understand that they or their loved ones may someday be affected by medical malpractice, causing permanent and devastating harms to the victims of medical malpractice and their families for which full justice was out of reach and made illegal.

What are some of the similarities between a gun ban and medical malpractice tort reforms? Anti-gun advocates believe that they will never be affected by a gun ban because they will never own or need a gun. Medical malpractice reformers believe that they will never have the need to seek compensation for harms caused by medical malpractice because they will never become medical malpractice victims themselves. Both medical malpractice reform proponents and gun ban proponents dismiss the rights of others affected by their respective positions.

Nonetheless, whether you are “pro-gun” or “anti-gun,” it is doubtful that you would be satisfied and accepting if the wrongoing of an incompetent medical provider caused you or a family member to suffer life-long, painful injuries for which the law provided very limited or no right to receive compensation for the losses and harms incurred. When negligent or incompetent medical providers are provided special protections and shielded from having to accept full responsibility for the harms they cause to others by so-called medical malpractice reform laws that financially benefit them at the expense of their victims, it is only a matter of time before other special interest groups in the United States seek and obtain unequal protection and superior status above the rest of us.

If you are the victim of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney to protect your rights, while you still can.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be willing and able to assist you with your possible medical malpractice claim.

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