‘A long time’ before Congress takes up medical error transparency

Thursday, November 17, 2022

by: Matt Grant, Dalton Huey

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If your doctor was sued for medical malpractice and had to pay up, would you want to know? How about if patients died? We found laws in Texas, and elsewhere, designed to prevent the public from ever finding out — protecting physicians over patients, advocates say.

KXAN is looking at transparency — not just in Texas, but across the country — when it comes to medical error transparency. The exact number of patients who die every year due to medical errors is unknown and debated. One often-cited study from Johns Hopkins, published before the pandemic in The BMJ medical journal, found medical errors to be the third leading cause of death in the US. In 2016, those researchers found more than 250,000 deaths a year were “due to medical error,” surpassing respiratory disease.

Eight members of Congress declined to talk about this issue with us, or didn’t respond, including leaders of the Senate’s Health Committee. .…

‘They really believe every lawsuit is frivolous’

“Most doctors do not accept that even in a situation of clear malpractice that they have done anything wrong,” said executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School Joanne Doroshow. “They really believe just about every lawsuit is frivolous.”

Doroshow has testified before Congress on this issue before. She believes insurance rate hikes are causes by medical errors — which she says has killed or injured “way too many people.” Increasing transparency would help weed out bad doctors, she argued.…

“They’re not getting any pressure from any large lobby groups to deal with it,” said Doroshow, who notes this issue comes up cyclically and often when rates are up. “And, so, it’s going to be a long time before Congress even considers doing something again on this.”

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