Letters to the Editor

Health care reform begins with tort reform

I worked in the health care industry for many years.

I witnessed firsthand what happened to patients when HMOs first began setting up shop.

I was on the front lines when doctors were forced to accept assignment for Medicare patients.

Every time government asserted itself into the health care system, I witnessed further reduction of patient access to quality care and an increase in a system where number of patients seen was more important than actually treating them. They were herded through so quickly there was no time for discussion with their doctors and our elderly patients were left totally confused by the system and about their own health.

But the crushing blow was dealt when malpractice insurance went through the roof practically over night. I sat with my physician employer as we agonized over how we were going to continue to practice under this staggering expense.

Currently, patients are forced to undergo many diagnostic tests and procedures so that physicians can “do a dance” around a diagnosis, ruling out what is NOT the problem (which is kind of like trying to cover their backsides with those backless gowns) rather than being allowed to practice good medicine and go after the diagnosis that their training and experience leads them to pursue.

Health reform must begin with tort reform. Since a large percentage of the Senate and Congress is made up of lawyers, one would think that they would be highly qualified to craft legislation that would limit frivolous lawsuits that drive up health care costs, rather than playing doctor and trying to apply a political fix to what they know so little about.

Susan Herrera
Lopez Island

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