Healthspan Blog

Long healthspans mean happy lives

Let’s make healthcare more expensive for everyone

26th May 2011

A malpractice award of 58 million bucks – anyone wonder why fewer and fewer doctors are going into OB/GYN? Anyone wonder why healthcare is so expensive in America?

Now certainly the family needs to be able to care for their son. Just not so sure we have to be so quick to blame the doctor. And there’s a difference between providing top notch care (the 8 million) and throwing money at something that makes you feel bad (the 50 million).

Even if this award is overturned and the “non-economic” damages are reduced to $0, do you think Ob’s won’t see this as a cautionary tale and perform Csections at the drop of a hat? There’s a reason the rate of C-sections in the US is 50% higher than in the UK and 35% or so higher than in Canada. Of course, some people like to think it’s because doctors can bill more for a C-section than a vaginal birth.

It’s not clear to me that there was any malpractice involved. Bad outcomes can happen because of or in spite of physician action. Saying, “let’s give a few million because things didn’t go perfectly” is part of the problem with health care in this country. The definition of medical malpractice is an action or inaction that would not have been performed by the average physician in that specialty. The danger is that jury verdicts like this will mean that any vaginal birth will be malpractice someday.

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