Boca Raton, Fl – November 2, 2010 — Medical expert, Perry Hookman MD a South Florida gastroenterologist and author of two recent books on Medical Malpractice (www.MedMalBook.com) challenged the conclusion of former Obama director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2009 to 2010 Peter Orzag. Orzag wrote in a 10/21/10 New York Times Op-Ed piece that tort reform should “shield from malpractice liability any doctors who followed evidence-based guidelines in treating their patients.” As an example of mis-directed policies, Hookman quoted former Obama budget director Peter Orzag, who advocated in this op-ed piece; “a safe harbor for doctors who follow evidence-based guidelines and that any doctor who could demonstrate that he had followed the recommended course for treating a specific illness or condition could not be held liable.”
Guidelines are not the problem, said Hookman. According to the Institute of Medicine, as many as 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors, costing $29 billion annually and not from medical guidelines problems.
Additionally, as Hookman detailed in his recent books**, some guidelines are known to be biased and thus if used to provide doctor immunity from medical malpractice it would not alleviate this problem. If Orzag’s suggestions were adopted, said Hookman, the guidelines could be written in such a way to give doctors as much latitude as possible; essentially rendering them useless-as liability protection.
Hookman spoke last week at the October 25-30 2010 San Francisco annual meeting of the 60,000 member American Osteopath Association [AOA] -and the American Osteopathic College of Occupational & Preventive Medicine [AOCOPM]. He instead urged a thorough and formal study of medical malpractice claims so as to help guide policy makers and legislators on tort reform help cut down on the increasing costs of US medical malpractice with resultant defensive medicine. Among the facts presented by Dr. Hookman at the San Francisco conference is that:
• “Of 1,137 malpractice cases between 2005 and 2009, diagnostic errors-not evidence based guideline adherence- accounted for 26% of large carriers [Crico/Rmf] claims.”*
• Among the 456 “high severity” cases that resulted in serious patient harm or death, nearly half were diagnostic errors” errors-not problems with evidence based guideline adherence*
• “Cases linked to diagnostic errors appear to be on the rise as primary care doctors, struggling with heavy case loads, take shortcuts or do not act on their patient’s symptoms”.*
• Medical professionals and organizations are finding lessons in closed malpractice cases which “are reflective of deeply rooted problems that are widespread in health care.” *
• “By analyzing the breakdowns in care that led to missed, delayed or incorrect diagnoses, health-care providers must develop programs to avert mistakes commonly found in these medical malpractice claims.*
He called for each doctor who has testified in a medical malpractice case to become a faculty member of whatever medical facility/organization they belong to implement a program of formal study of closed medical malpractice claims. Hookman maintained that expert physician faculty teaching medical students and graduate doctors from closed medical malpractice claims, will help with currently ineffectual and mis-directed malpractice tort reform measures.
Hookman pointed to medical organizations like The Veterans Health Administration, Kaiser Permanente, Crico/RMF health insurance carriers and Harvard affiliated hospitals-Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who already have implemented study of closed medical malpractice claims* This should be duplicated, said Hookman, all over the country.
*9/27/10 Wall Street Journal – “Doctors Are Learning Better Health Care Practices By Studying Errors Described In Malpractice Cases. Using Malpractice Claims to Help Physicians Avoid Diagnostic Mistakes, Delays”
For more information contact:
Perry Hookman MD; 5607 NW 24TH Terrace, Boca Raton Fl. 33496
email: [email protected]
Tel: 561-445-0486; Fax: 561-241-8554