Bad things sometimes happen during health care, things like: not being better; an adverse reaction like a side-effect of a medicine; being worse than before, such as being paralyzed after spine surgery; or worst, death. When we are dissatisfied, we may activate the medical malpractice (abbreviated med-mal) system.
What do we expect from med-mal? The immediate goal often seems to be getting even with the doctor, the nurse, or the hospital that harmed us. But vengeance is not what we really want or need.
The system should provide the person harmed during medical care with two things: help when injured, and continuously better health care. The first translates to both medical and financial assistance. “Better health care” means two things: error reduction, and better outcomes tomorrow than are possible today.
Does med-mal deliver the things we want? If a patient does not win the med-mal lawsuit, does s/he get compensation? Does the current system encourage health care people to try to do better tomorrow than they can do today? If you agree that these are rhetorical questions, what we need to do is clear.
What we have now is really a bad (mal) process.
We need to scrap it and create a new (good) process.
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