ACR urges action on malpractice reform

August 21, 2009

The chairman of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors issued an open letter to Barack Obama urging the White House to include medical malpractice reform as part of healthcare reform discussion.

The chairman of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors issued an open letter to Barack Obama urging the White House to include medical malpractice reform as part of healthcare reform discussion.

In the letter dated August 12, Dr. James Thrall wrote that he felt compelled to respond to a senior administration official who said in a recent American Board of Radiology forum that malpractice reform was excluded from discussion because the White House had not heard from physician on the issue. In response, Thrall noted that the ACR has publicly supported medical malpractice reform since 1987.

“We believe medical malpractice reform is a substantial opportunity to enhance your objectives of cost containment in the health care delivery system by reducing the costs of defensive medicine, which the American Medical Association estimates to be from $84 billion to $121 billion annually,” he wrote.

President Obama got a first-person dose of physician opinion on tort reform June 15 when he was booed at the American Medical Association annual meeting when he admitted that he opposed capping malpractice awards.

Thrall stressed that defensive medicine adds enormous costs that demoralize practitioners and sap their productivity. He noted that healthcare reform without medical malpractice reform will leave many providers feeling that they have be require to make sacrifices for the nation, while lawyers have been given a free pass.

“All parties involved in the various aspects of the healthcare delivery system must be part of the solution and sacrifice when necessary,” he wrote.