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Unintended Consequences: When Hospitalists Become Too Popular, Costs Rise

It’s the fastest growing “specialty” service in medicine: hospitalist medicine. These are the doctors who limit their practice to the care and management of patients admitted to the hospital. It has been wildly popular because it adds a shift-like work schedule to medical care for physicians while supposedly preserving their personal life. It also moves patients through the hospital faster, shortening length of stays. As one of our more esteemed hospitalist bloggers likes to boast: it’s a “WIN-WIN!”

At least until the hospitalist service gets too busy. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

The Other Reason Why Medical Malpractice Reform Is Critical

There hasn’t been much discussion about serious tort reform in the current healthcare reform debate. That’s probably because most policy experts don’t believe it will make a significant dent in healthcare costs. I happen to believe that tort reform would be a huge boon for healthcare (just ask Ob/Gyns in Texas) and save a lot in defensive medicine practices and unnecessary testing, but even if I’m wrong and it wouldn’t result in cost-savings, there’s another issue at play: access to primary care physicians.

We all agree that we’re in the midst of a major shortage in primary care physicians. Many different solutions have been proposed – everything from “let the nurses do it” to forgiving medical school loans to physicians who choose primary care as a career. However, solving the PCP shortage isn’t just about recruitment, it’s about retention. And with up to a half of PCPs saying that practice conditions are so unbearable they’re planning to quit in the next 2 years – Houston, we have a problem. Read more »

Trial Lawyers Fight For Status Quo In Healthcare

In a surprise, President Obama has signaled a willingness to discuss medical liability as part of the health reform process.

Good for him for standing up to the trial lawyers, a core constituency of the left.

That’s a good sign, as the costs of defensive medicine brought on by the broken malpractice system, should be addressed if there is any hope of reducing health care spending.

Trial lawyers like to say that medical malpractice represents “less than one percent of the cost of health care,” but that fails to account for the substantial sum attributed to defensive medicine doctors practice to avoid the threat of malpractice, estimated to be $210 billion annually.

Furthermore, the argument that malpractice reform will harm patients “by limiting their ability to seek compensation through the courts” doesn’t hold water either.

That’s because the current system does a miserable job of compensating patients for medical errors, where more than 50 cents on every compensated dollar goes to pay lawyers and the courts. Not to mention that a typical malpractice trial may last years before an injured patient receives a single penny.

So, don’t believe the arguments of the trial lawyers, who prefer the financial security of the status quo.

Any alternative system, such as no-fault malpractice, mediation, or health courts, will go a long way both to reduce the cost of medical care, and fairly compensate more patients for medical errors at a significantly more expedient rate.

Lawyers are aware of these facts, and to their credit, are going on a preemptive offensive to head off tort reform. If I were the AMA, I would start pro-actively circulating some of the above talking points, rather than reacting to the trial lawyers.

**This post was originally published at KevinMD**

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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