Geoff Boehm


Medical malpractice-negligence and recklessness by hospitals and physicians-injures hundreds of thousands of people each year. In 2000, the Institute of Medicine released a lengthy report, To Err Is Human, revealing that preventable medical errors result in up to 98,000 deaths in hospitals annually. Unfortunately, lawmakers and others have focused too much on reducing liability for those preventable errors and too little on reducing their occurrence. As a result, a July 2004 study shows that over a decade in which two-thirds of states passed "tort reform" measures that limit or restrict medical malpractice lawsuits, there was no improvement in safety: The number of avoidable deaths in hospitals alone is now approximately 195,000 per year, not including obstetrics patients. Despite these bleak statistics, when organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA) speak about a malpractice "crisis," they are referring not to the people injured or killed by medical errors or the widespread failure to discipline negligent doctors (including repeat offenders), but rather to doctors' increasing malpractice insurance premiums.