When a person comes to a doctor's office, they are viewed not just as patients, but as potential plaintiffs. This is unfortunate and potentially damaging to the fragile doctor-patient relationship that needs to be established, beginning with that initial encounter. When it becomes necessary for the doctor to contemplate the possibility that any outcome involving the patient which is short of perfection, may trigger a malpractice suit, it starts this relationship off on the "wrong foot."
It is impossible to make doctors impervious to those who view the medical legal system as a lottery. However, when attempts are made to add protection, it comes at a huge cost. It is estimated that between $200-400 billion per year is wasted servicing this economy within the healthcare sector. Doctors often order an extra test just to be sure that they don't "overlook something." Malpractice insurance premiums are so outrageously high that some states don't have enough obstetricians to deliver babies. A pair of heart surgeons in Wyoming are forced to share a malpractice policy because they can't afford the $250,000 annual premium. Consequently, they can only practice half time, not because they want to, but because they have no other choice. We all pay for the costs that this abusive system shifts over to physicians.
Patients who are truly injured or damaged need to be able to collect reasonable compensation. However, the ambulance chasers need to be stopped and punished if necessary. Measures such as no fault insurance and moving these cases out of the civil courts are but a couple of the many ways that this problem can be made better. Doctors should not have to view patients as possible adversaries. The loser in this always turns out to be the patients.
Dr. Hal C. Scherz is a renowned Pediatric Urologist practicing in Atlanta Georgia. He is also serving as the President of Docs 4 Patient Care (D4PC). His training has taken him from New York to Texas to California at some of the most well regarded institutions in American Medicine. He is a full time practicing urologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and is an Asst. Professor at Emory University. He has one of the few fellowship training programs in Pediatric Urology in the US and serves as a principal investigator on numerous studies in his field of expertise and a reviewer for several peer reviewed journals in Urology.