Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More commentary on the MEDiC bill and medical malpractice

Ezra Klein at Slate magazine provides an interesting comparison/contrast of strategies by the Republican and Democratic parties to address patient safety and medical error, "The Medical Malpractice Myth: Forget tort reform. The Democrats have a better diagnosis."

Klein notes that the Republicans (led by Bill Frist, Senator from TN) seem to be focusing on limiting medical malpractice awards while the National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation (MEDiC) legislation proposed by Democrats Hilary Clinton (Senator, NY) and Barack Obama (Senator, IL) seems to focus more on providing systems for improving patient safety and tracking medical error (previous post on this legislation).

Klein sums this contrast up by commenting "In other words, to the Republicans, suits and payouts are the ill. To the Democrats, the problem is a slew of medical injuries of which the suits are a symptom" and concludes the opinion piece with a brief examination of recent healthcare research on clinician error, which does seem to be more in line with the MEDiC strategy for a more systematic approach to reducing error and improving safety.

Update: The New England Journal of Medicine today has a piece examining the both individual and systems-level accountability for patient safety using the issue of clinician hand washing in the prevention of cross-infection among patients.

The commentary: Goldmann D. System failure versus personal accountability - the case for clean hands. New Engl J Med 2006 Jul 13; 355: 121-3.

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