ENDING THE BATTLE BETWEEN
PHYSICIAN AND PATIENT IN ALASKA

EmergencyRoom

 

The United States pays far more for its healthcare system as a percentage of the national economy that any other nation on earth.  US 17%, Canada 10%, Great Britain 7%, Australia 9%, Japan 10%, China 6%.

Yet, the effectiveness of US healthcare in medical outcomes and longevity ranks only 37th on a global scale, well below places like Greece, Saudi Arabia and Iceland.

Among the States,
Alaska ranks 27th for medical outcomes and longevity, while occupying a world record level of healthcare spending per capita one-third higher than the national average in the US.  Despite the huge spending, Alaska has had a physician shortage it seems since the time of Statehood.

Possibly the single greatest cause of dysfunction in the medical marketplace is the distrust between patient and physician that the present legal system makes as its hallmark.  The two terrible stepchildren of the war over tort compensation in Alaska are the practice of “defensive medicine” greatly increasing costs and the interference with objectively assessing poor patient outcomes with an eye to improving the system overall.   

With “defensive medicine” patients receive much more testing and treatment than they need.  It is done primarily for the doctor’s possible future legal defense rather than for the patient.

The investigation of malpractice complaints in a confrontational system tends to back up the physicians and hospitals no matter what, even at the expense of learning how best to avoid such outcomes in the future.  Coverup is the operative method for medical error reporting in the US as a different form of defensiveness.

 

Unlike the quagmires of Obamacare and Medicaid and Medicare though, this is an area the States can remedy to tremendous effect all on their own without much federal interference.  There are models for reform in Scandinavia and New Zealand that are effective, efficient and well-liked by doctors, hospitals and patients after 40 years of operation.

The reform concept is simple.  Eliminate the medical malpractice lawsuit entirely in Alaska in favor of a patient compensation system administered by a state board funded by healthcare providers through the professional licensing system.  This is largely the present system in Sweden, first adopted in 1972.

This self-funding method would eliminate the need for medical malpractice insurance in Alaska altogether. 

The new system would reduce the time needed to resolve patient claims to less than one year and typically to only a few months’ time.

This system eliminates the need for court litigation altogether.  The net share of medical injury compensation proceeds paid to lawyers and expert witnesses would be reduced from 60% to near zero.  The injured patient would receive 100% of the award made instead.

As time passed and the old worries fade away, there would an end to “defensive medicine” in Alaska along with its tremendous cost.  The need for the practice will have simply vanished.


Most importantly, Alaska could join the rest of the world in formalizing medical error reporting and analysis without the deceitful gloss of malpractice litigation applying.  The mistakes made in healthcare management could finally be openly discussed with a view toward future prevention and nothing else.

Such a system has been proven over the long term to be far, far less expensive and more effective than the US tort liability system.  Please take the time to review the links provided below showing how Alaska could vastly improve its healthcare system while lowering costs and increasing satisfaction with the system by all participants with no marginal increase in state spending at any level.

And therefore induce a rush of physicians to Alaska like the Great North has never seen before.

1.    Comparing Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand Administrative Compensation for Medical Injuries to the US Tort System.

 

2.    How Denmark Dumped Medical Malpractice and Improved Patient Care.

 

3.    The Fall of the Hippocratic Oath: Defensive Medicine

 

4.    Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in US Hospitals

 

5.    No-Fault Medical Injury Compensation Insurance vs. the US Tort System: Comparing Costs

 

Presented by United for Liberty Alaska
Michael Chambers, Stephen Merrill