Double Jeopardy

Michael A. Glueck, MD
Article Type: 
September/October 1998
Volume Number: 
Issue Number: 

Dear Editors,

Dr. Faria makes an excellent point on page 54 of “Medical Ethics and Organized Medicine,” [Medical Sentinel 1998;3(2):53-54] when he writes, “Members of the legal profession in the plaintiff’s bar are attempting to replace the physician, the patient’s traditional advocate, as their true and newest protectors — and they are succeeding.” In the “Patient Bill of Rights,” the Democrats are pushing tough health care standards including giving lawyers the right to sue managed care companies. We should be real careful about allowing or trusting the trial lawyers to do anything that will “protect” the patient!

Once, the money paid by patients went to health care. Then, with the emergence of managed care, the money went to the insurance companies and HMOs with less going to patient care. Under the new Democratic proposal to allow consumers to sue managed care programs, the possibility exists that most of the money will go to the HMO’s and the plaintiff’s bar. Even less will go to patient care and premiums will rocket with two groups of middlemen.

All this is ironic because it was the calculated malpractice attack of the trial lawyers on the medical profession in the late 1970s that partially caused medical costs to escalate dramatically. This rise in costs helped set the stage for managed care in the first place. If this Clinton proposal goes through, the trial lawyers will be enriched a second time for a problem they helped create. We, as physicians, must somehow protect the patient from this apparent double jeopardy.

Michael A. Glueck, MD
Newport Beach, CA

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1998;3(5):155. Copyright © 1998 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).





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