New York City should be accountable for its sins

New York Sun
Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to fight for a cap on the amount New York would pay citizens suing the city for injuries couldn’t have come at a worse time.


When the mayor complains that million-dollar verdicts against the city are “as common as MetroCards,” he’s not just overstating his case, he’s also forgetting that the city of New York currently employs – and fails to detect, discipline, or dismiss – far too many people who are incompetent, dishonest, drug-addicted, criminally-minded, or some combination of the above.


About 4,000 lawsuits are launched annually against the city for a grotesque parade of alleged acts of medical incompetence: misdiagnosed cancer cases, amputations of the wrong limb, brain-damaged babies, and other avoidable horrors.

“There’s a problem in competency here; that’s why we see claim after claim,” says Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a Manhattan-based legal think tank. “The city has to focus on getting better quality of care.”

Instead of cursing the victims, the city should apply some percentage of its gigantic medical malpractice expenses toward finding and removing incompetent physicians. A thoughtful system could penalize individual hospitals that aren’t screening and training their doctors, or the city could develop incentives to hire better doctors to practice in the public hospitals. With the legal cost of medical malpractice as high as they are, even spending lavishly on such a program could end up saving money for the city.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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