Is the US healthcare system too litigious or too careless?

In a recent study published in Health Affairs, researchers at the University of Utah and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement found that errors “occurred in one-third of hospital admissions”. Moreover, they “found at least ten times more confirmed, serious events than … other methods.”

Commenting on this study, Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer said:

Without doubt, we’ve seen improvements in health care over the past decade, and even pockets of excellence, but overall progress has been agonizingly slow. It’s clear that we still have a great deal of work to do in order to achieve a healthcare system that is consistently high-quality–that is, safe, effective, patient-centered, efficient, timely, and devoid of disparities based on race or ethnicity.

Wow, what an indictment of a healthcare system that many consider to be the best in the world!

With so many observed errors, you’d think that we’re the helpless patient in the cartoon below just waiting for a mistake to happen:

Or, are we just too litigious?

According to Angela Dodge and Steven Fitzer (When Good Doctors Get Sued):

  • 25% of practicing physicians are sued annually
  • 50-65% physicians are sued at least once during their career

In short, if you’re a doctor — good or bad — you’re going to get sued sooner or later, no matter what you do, which is really a sad statistic. It’s as though this country is filled with lawyers, like the one below, who sees dollar signs ringing when Frankenstein enters his office:

So, which one? Too litigious or too careless? Or both?

What do you think?

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Comments
3 Responses to “Is the US healthcare system too litigious or too careless?”
  1. Since we are all human, mistakes are going to occur.

    I think the real problem is the “sweeping under the rug” that occurs often when errors are made. Patients don’t usually sue because of one mistake, the usually sue because of a poor overall experience. To Ere is Human, according to the Study Publish by the Institute of medicine, and until computers and robots are fulfilling all our healthcare needs, we are going to Ere because we are human.
    The issue we need to tackle is the manner in which we handle said “errors”. We need to treat our patients with respect and dignity and give them the respect of our honesty. We need to make the hospital experience as pleasant as possible and be thankful for the patients that give us as healthcare providers a job and means to take care of our families.
    If we extend little more respect and customer service to our patients, I believe the number of lawsuits would decline.

    remember, patients don’t sue their friends. Make them feel welcome and treat them like a human being, and not just bed 302.

  2. Michael Wong says:

    @dialdoctors comments:
    “Neither when you think about why it happens.We avoid mistakes but they happen. Ppl sue bc they need to feel compensated.”

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