Saturday, November 13, 2004

Tort Reform and DNC chairmanship

After all those funny speaches Bush made on the campaign trail about reforming medical malpractice, I think it is time to set the record straight on what works and what doesn't in terms of reducing the number of lawsuits and malpractice insurance premiums.

AP Reporter Lindsy Tanner notes that "The hospitals in the University of Michigan Health System have been encouraging doctors since 2002 to apologize for mistakes. The system's annual attorney fees have since dropped from $3 million to $1 million, and malpractice lawsuits and notices of intent to sue have fallen from 262 filed in 2001 to about 130 per year..." That's why victim's rights groups have a whole program called "Sorry Works!" The idea for "Sorry Works" came from an honesty policy the Veterans Affairs hospital in Lexington, Ky., adopted in 1987 after two big malpractice cases cost the hospital over $1.5 million.

Another obvious way to avoid being sued is to reduce the number of medical errors. An Institute of Medicine report in 1999 said "mistakes kill as many as 98,000 hospitalized Americans each year." Too me, that sounds like a lot. My sister is a doctor (internal medicine) and she tells me how many near mistakes there are, like misreading Rx's and filling fatal drugs for patients, to misreading charts, to leaving sponges and scicors inside patents. Many of these errors, I believe could be cured by having doctors (especially young doctors) work less hours in a row so that they are fresher.

Every time my sister complains about how long her shifts were, I worried about her patients, as smart as she is.

And now without trasition, here is topic number 2: DNC chairmanship. Dean's name has recently cropped up (along with Vilsack of dung-- thanks for helping with Iowa buddy) as the blogosphere (or at least Deaniacs) choice for DNC. The two DLC bloggers point out that HoDean might not be such a good idea. As Ed Killgore notes:

I strongly suspect that DNC interest in Dean is not about his ideas, or his reformist credentials, or even his grassroots support. I doubt they look at this born-again liberal from the bluest of blue states and see the face that will launch an assault on the Red State Fortress the Republicans have been building. I betcha money they look at Howard Dean and see Green, as in Long Green. [$]

Now I doubt that's the legacy, or the mission, that the Governor wants to identify his movement with going forward. And even more generally, I can't imagine a less suitable vehicle for genuine reform than the DNC, at least as it's currently constituted.

He sneaks in a slam of Dean while still declaring a truce (calling the good Dr. a "born-again liberal" which is pretty true). He also has a nice quote for GOPers in the post-Goldwater era: "Party chairmanships are the fool's gold of American politics." Just ask my dad and he will agree with that one too.

As for Marshall Wittmann (aka BullMooseBlog), he creates a phony secret memo between a Democratic collaporator and Karl Rove, but it drives home the point nonetheless:

"Your next mission is to elect the new Chairman of the Democratic Party. I am looking for someone who is a scream - if you get my message. I need to be discreet here because this missive could get into the wrong hands (or hoofs). Make certain that I can easily caricature the new DNC Chair as a northeastern liberal dove who is out of touch with red state values. I think you get my drift. "

I think Ed's is a little more sensative way of putting it and the way I would tell my Deaniac friends why they shouldn't be so excited about Howard taking over. Marshall represents what the "Democratic Establishment" worries are with Dr. Dean are. Combine that with Stirling's case against NDN head Simon Rosenberg, and you've knocked down at least two (and three if you count my quick dispatch of Vilsack), so who's left?

Donna Brazille has said no. Harold Ickes, head of the 527 "The Media Fund" and Clintonista, is reportedly interested, but there might be built in oposition to any suggestion the Clinton's have, given how well Terry McAweful did in his 4 years (almost as bad as Bush!).

That leaves me with Al Gore. He has nothing better to do and I think it will both raise his profile again and keep him from running for President in 2008, two great things for the party. Plus, I think he would be good at it.

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