/PRNewswire/ -- 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%.