CALA Slingshots: Medical Liability
Rebutting a lawyer's pocketbook argument

Dan Barrett's April 15 commentary, "'Malpractice reform' shoves aside the patient," was a factually flawed and inaccurate argument against tort reform. Once again, this was nothing more than a lawyer arguing his pocketbook.

Barrett cited the flawed and much-debated report by the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Quality of Health Care in America to highlight the extent of malpractice. The 2000 report estimated that as many as 98,000 deaths each year may result from medical errors and that more than 1.2 million patients may have been injured in "adverse events."

Extrapolating from these figures, Texas should have in excess of 7,000 wrongful deaths and 90,000 "adverse events." Yet Barrett cited the decreasing lawsuit rate as evidence that lawsuits aren't out of hand.

He can't have it both ways.

Barrett also failed to tell the reader what percentage of the 4,500 lawsuits filed are actually found to have merit in court. The truth is, less than 10 percent of cases actually are found for the plaintiff.

Barrett also neglected to say that malpractice carriers warned their clients this year to expect a steep rise in premiums. Some members of my specialty have seen premiums rise by more than 300 percent without ever having a claim filed against them.

For Barrett's argument, timing is everything. The truth is what's missing.

Finally, I will not argue that Gov. Rick Perry is trying to extract himself from a self-imposed vise, but I will take issue with the idea that lawyers are everyone's favorite villains. They are just plain villains and no one's favorite.

Dr. Charles Andrews, Fort Worth

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

2500 City West Boulevard, Suite 300 • Houston, Texas 77042
E-mail: sosueme@ • Administrative: (713) 267-2302 • Fax: (713) 267-2267