Weekly Feature

2009-08-26 / Letters to the Editor

More to tort reform than legislation

I would like to comment on Rep. (Chris) Lee's support of medical malpractice reform as part of the health care reform package. As a nurse educator, nurse practitioner and woman with significant, permanent orthopedic disabilities due to medical negligence — I believe I have a unique perspective on this issue.

There is often a misconception by the public that if you are a victim of medical error, you have "hit the lottery." In reality, only a very small percentage of victims sue their health care providers. In addition, since malpractice cases are very expensive to litigate, unless a lawyer feels there will be a substantial payout, he or she will not take your case, even though there may be strong, objective evidence that you did not receive the required standard of care.

As someone whose professional and personal life has been forever changed due to avoidable medical errors, I cannot tell you how devastating it is to be told by an attorney that your case is "not compelling enough" to impress a jury.

I would like to suggest that health care providers, politicians and others interested in this issue Google "Sorry Works." This program, founded by Doug Wojcieszak (who lost his brother due to medical error), has had exceptional success across the country in decreasing the number of medical malpractice cases filed by victims of medical error.

Tort reform would likely take an exceptional amount of time to accomplish. A pro-patient response to medical error through the concepts of "Sorry Works" can be quickly put into place and will help injured patients and health care providers immediately before changes in legislation can be accomplished. A true win-win situation for all.
Linda Snell
Strickler Road

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