Tort Reform and The Hypocritic Oath

There were 11,773 DWI deaths nationally in 2008. These numbers are alarming. It is absolutely unacceptable to allow drivers to endanger the safety of others. A drunk driving death has enormous consequences causing severe and irreparable damages for the family, the children, the friends and loved ones that survive. Those that cause these harms, or even threaten these harms, must be stopped at all costs. And when they do cause harm, they must be held fully accountable in every way. Personal responsibility is the foundation of democracy. Agreed?

Contrast these numbers, the outrage associated with these tragedies and the policies to address them with the myth of the medical malpractice crisis. The Hippocratic Oath states, “FIRST, DO NO HARM.” It is hard to explain how this Oath justifies the rabid opposition to compensation of victims of medical negligence. The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine estimates that up to 98,000 people die every year as a result of medical negligence. That is almost 9 times the number of DWI related deaths. Where is the outrage?

When viewed against this backdrop, the Hippocratic Oath is rendered meaningless. It is difficult to explain or justify until you realize what is really behind Tort Reform. There is another and overriding oath decreed by the Insurance Industry, the Hypocritic Oath, which states, “FIRST, SEE NO HARM.” This explains why Tort Reformers can continue to rant about the mythical medical malpractice lawsuit crisis while denying the true crisis completely. The Hypocritic Oath explains why worker‘s compensation laws in every state provide pennies on the dollars for damages suffered by injured or killed workers. It explains why worker‘s compensation laws are drafted and enacted under the pretext of protecting workers when it is really to protect employers against responsibility from their own negligence, and sometimes recklessness, that leads to the injury or death of workers. It explains why these arguments can be made in the face of the reality that there are well over 5000 work related deaths a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while thousands more suffer permanent and crippling non-fatal injuries, many of which are the result of unsafe working environments or conditions. It explains how Transocean can fight for liability limits of $27 million for its negligence in the BP spill while collecting hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate for its own losses from the very same spill. And on it goes. The Hypocritic Oath is everywhere you find the insurance industry.

The Hypocritic Oath dictates that the insurance industry, purportedly on behalf o their client corporations, doctors and employers should spend millions upon millions every year on Tort Reform to dodge their responsibilities to individuals and society. It dictates that taxpayers pick up the costs for their harms with Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, bank bailouts, TARP, disaster relief and assistance, liability caps and limits and countless other governmental measures made necessary by the Hypocritic Oath. Tort reform is not about protecting doctors. It certainly is not about protecting patients, workers, families or society. It is about protecting profits, plain and simple.


Related Reading:
The High Costs of Medical Errors on the Healthcare System
MedMal Cap Protection in New Mexico Protects both Doctors and Medical Corporations
Medical Malpractice Caps and Public Costs, Who Really Pays?

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