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Groups to Congress: Don't Sacrifice Patient Safety to Lower Health Costs
Date:6/26/2009

Health Reform Should Reduce Medical Errors, Not Immunize Negligent Providers for Mistakes that Maim and Kill Innocent Patients

WASHINGTON, June 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congress should not confuse lowering health care costs with limiting patient safety, said a letter from consumer and patient advocates sent to Congress today. The groups urged a focus on reducing medical errors in health reform legislation, not limits on liability for negligent medical providers, as a means to both save lives and lower the costs of medical mistakes.

State malpractice damage caps, and other limits on liability for negligent health care providers, have locked injured patients out of court, degraded the quality of health care and denied justice to too many families, said Consumer Watchdog.

"Those who wish to reduce the costs of medical malpractice liability should focus on stemming the epidemic of preventable medical errors," wrote the advocates, not "reduce accountability for wrongdoing and weaken patient safety. We urge you to reject any amendments to the legislation that will shift costs from poorly performing medical facilities and providers to struggling families."

"Shielding negligent parties from accountability is no way to cut costs or provide quality care. To the contrary, it is a recipe for increasing the nation's epidemic of preventable errors, at enormous human and financial cost. Instead of limiting liability, the Congress should focus on improving patient safety. This would save not only lives, but also billions of dollars in unnecessary medical cost," wrote the groups.

The state that is cited most frequently by proponents of malpractice liability limits as a success - California - has insurance regulation, not its malpractice damage cap, to thank for holding malpractice insurance rates down for health care providers. In the thirteen years after passage of a damage cap, medical malpractice insurance rates went up 450%. Over the next thirteen years, after Californians approved strong insurance oversight, medical malpractice insurance premiums went down 2%.

Consumer Watchdog joined the Alliance for Justice, Consumer Action, National Women's Health Network, NCCNHR: The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Public Citizen and USAction to send the letter today.

Download the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/MedErrors6-25-09.pdf

See the video monument of innocent patients denied justice for medical mistakes at: http://www.JusticeforPatients.org

Download the report "How Insurance Reform Lowered Doctors' Medical Malpractice Rates In California, And How Malpractice Caps Failed": http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/documents/1008.pdf

Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, CA. Find us on the web at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org


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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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