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May 30, 2006

Doctors or Lawyers?

The Bronx civil jury is the greatest tool of wealth redistribution since the Red Army.

—Left-wing litigator Ron Kuby

While it's great for trial lawyers like the Breck Girl that they are so easily able to convert their cheesy glibness into mountains of cash, the rest of us have to pay for the litigation gravy train — and we pay in many ways, as Deroy Murdock describes on NRO.

When it comes to the lucrative medical malpractice racket, the first to pay are doctors. Between 1975 and 2003, malpractice insurance premiums rose 406%. Unsurprisingly, some of this outrageous expense is passed along to us, contributing heavily to the 525% rise in the cost of medical care over the same period.

Another cost is in quality of care, as doctors are forced to practice "defensive medicine," by which the objective is not the health of the patient, but to avoid giving ambulance chasers anything they can twist into malpractice. Defensive medicine often entails unnecessary tests and trips to specialists, and avoidance of any drugs targeted by looters.

John Edwards and his colleagues have no trouble shopping around for vindictive juries too dim to understand that as potential consumers of medical care, they are being looted right along with the doctors. As a result, the figures involved can be stratospheric. Helping to explain why vaccines will be in short supply if a bird flu epidemic ever becomes a reality, one vaccine lawsuit demanded $30 billion in damages. Annual revenues for the entire industry come to $6 billion.

A cost that's hard to gauge is the price we pay in valuable drugs that are not on the market because in this legal climate, it's not worth it to keep them there. When Glaxo was forced to withdraw LYMErix, Lyme disease infections shot up 40%. When Merrell Dow had to pull Bendectin, morning sickness hospitalizations doubled.

As U.S. Chamber of Commerce chairman Tom Donahue puts it:

The trial lawyers look at the pharmaceutical guys the way Willie Sutton looked at banks: That's where the money is.

It's bad enough when the need to finance lawyers' lavish lifestyles results in outrageously expensive, substandard medical care and the unavailability of useful drugs. What's worse is that it can result in no medical care at all. John Edwards isn't the only one to sue people into the ground for delivering babies. As a result, seven counties in New York have no OB/GYNs. Hospitals in poor neighborhoods, like Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia, have been forced to stop delivering babies.

In the end, we have to chose: who does more for us, doctors or trial lawyers? Remember the answer when you go to the polls in November. The reason the tort system doesn't get fixed is that the 56,000-member Association of Trial Lawyers of America gives the Democratic Party $millions to block any attempt at reform.

What do you get when you cross a locust with a shampoo commercial?

Posted by Van Helsing at May 30, 2006 1:55 PM


Maybe we should get this ass to channel honest hardworking citizens who don't look at the medical industry as an arena for "jackpot justice" through the courts. We simply pay for it in the long run.

Posted by: Eneils Bailey at May 30, 2006 2:36 PM


Posted by: BenSittin at May 30, 2006 3:11 PM

Could he be any more feminine?

Posted by: nikko at May 30, 2006 3:54 PM

There's a part of this problem that Conservatives don't like to address; lax discipline of bad doctors. There ARE doctors who deserve to be sued into the stone age, and the AMA is dilatory at best in dealing with them.

My wide is allergic (or 'has a bad reaction", for the purists in the audience) to Codine. This fact is ALWAYS noted on her medical charts. Yet twice, with two different doctors, she has emerged from surgery with a prescription for tylenol3 on her recovery plan. Fortunately we caught it both times.

I don't say that the doctors in question should have had their licenses pulled, but it would have been comforting to know that their surgical privileges had been revoked for a month or two. And that is a mild case.

Cornered on this issue the AMA tends to mutter about the 'Doctor shortage'. It is interesting to not that in spite of this shortage - which has gone on for some time - there hasn't been a new college of medicine accredited in thirty years (or so I recall from the last time I checked. If the situation has changed, I haven't heard of it).

The AMA, the specialists' Certification Boards, and the hospital boards have become societies for the protection of mediocre doctors. I don't know what to do about it, but it has to stop.

Posted by: C. S. P. Schofield at May 30, 2006 9:45 PM

As an attorney, let me be the first to say that lawyers truly are parasites that suck the lifeblood from our society. Our profession, in all of its haughty, holier-than-thou self-importance, is a racket full of hustlers and shakedown artists.

I find practicing law despicable, and there's not a day that goes by that I dont regret ever going to law school.

At least good MDs actually save lives. What do good lawyers do? Blackmail more efficiently?

In reality there's one way to stop the law locusts- amend the laws so that losers always pay for all parties' litigation expenses. That would put John Edwards, and the rest of the legal hustlers, out of commission in a hurry, and thus save us all money on health insurance and prescription drug costs.

Posted by: TLA at June 3, 2006 4:59 PM

What the guy above me said.

Posted by: JMK at June 10, 2006 6:25 PM