Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Time for the Principal's Office

After years of warnings, $196,500 just to be forced to finally admit wrongdoing. Read the Pensacola News Journal, Schools to pay ACLU.

Bet this will be an issue during the next elections.

Did Your Egg Stand?

Urban legend says that you can stand an egg on its end on the spring and fall equinox.

Happy autumnal equinox! Now where is the fall weather, when does the Christmas music start, and will I get a refund on my hurricane insurance?


The egg standing thing is an urban legend.

Malpractice Reform

There has been talk of limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, but shouldn't the objective of health care reform be to reduce medical malpractice. Read this good, but somewhat misleadingly titled, artice in The New York Times, Medical Malpractice System Breeds More Waste, which notes from a recent study that:

"The direct costs of malpractice lawsuits — jury awards, settlements and the like — are such a minuscule part of health spending that they barely merit discussion, economists say. But that doesn’t mean the malpractice system is working.

The fear of lawsuits among doctors does seem to lead to a noticeable amount of wasteful treatment. Amitabh Chandra — a Harvard economist whose research is cited by both the American Medical Association and the trial lawyers’ association — says $60 billion a year, or about 3 percent of overall medical spending, is a reasonable upper-end estimate. If a new policy could eliminate close to that much waste without causing other problems, it would be a no-brainer.

At the same time, though, the current system appears to treat actual malpractice too lightly. Trials may get a lot of attention, but they are the exception. Far more common are errors that never lead to any action.

After reviewing thousands of patient records, medical researchers have estimated that only 2 to 3 percent of cases of medical negligence lead to a malpractice claim. For every notorious error — the teenager who died in North Carolina after being given the wrong blood type, the 39-year-old Massachusetts mother killed by a chemotherapy overdose, the newborn twins (children of the actor Dennis Quaid) given too much blood thinner — there are dozens more. You never hear about these other cases.

So we have a malpractice system that, while not as bad as some critics suggest, is expensive in all the wrong ways.

Of course, the debate over medical malpractice isn't about reducing medical malpractice, but don't try to explain that to the Republi-con's unholy alliance.