Part III - Medical Malpractice: The Benefits of Consumer Education

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Close to a 100,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical malpractice. Two professionals who have done extensive research in medical malpractice join this program to discuss how to prevent becoming a victim yourself: Tom Baker, Director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford and author of The Medical Malpractice Myth, as well as Michael Berens, an investigative reporter from the Seattle Times.

Medical malpractice can come in several forms. There are doctors who will perform unnecessary, harmful procedures just to make a buck, and then there are otherwise good doctors who just weren’t careful, or doctors who try to do a good job but are just not adept. Professor Baker stresses that medical malpractice suits are an important right of the consumer. While lawyers are sometimes portrayed as “sharks” trying to make money off of lawsuits, the problem of people bringing wrongful lawsuits is much smaller than the problem of malpractice victims who don’t bring lawsuits.

Michael Berens has recently conducted investigations of scam artists in the health area that have led to congressional hearings. He discusses his research of “energy medicine” and fraudulent medical machine scams in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the problem of hospitals charging insurance companies to fix their own mistakes.

Listen to this webcast for a fascinating discussion on medical malpractice. Dr. Baker and Michael answer questions from listeners and offer tips on how to get quality medical care, how to identify unqualified physicians and the importance of researching your doctors. Dr. Baker also explains how you can determine whether your doctor has been involved in any medical malpractice suits and how to bring a lawsuit against a doctor with a phony degree. Listen now to learn more about a growing problem in our country.

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Andrew Schorr:

Here we go again with another in our series on fraud, medical malpractice, why you as a healthcare consumer have to get smart because there definitely are risks out there of being ripped off or maybe getting care that’s not right for you or maybe being harmed by it, and on the other side maybe we have to reorient our expectations sometimes so we know when our doctors are trying to do their best but sometimes our illness gets the best of us and them. So we’ll put all that in perspective.

So what have we done over the last several days? We’ve talked about health insurance fraud, and hopefully made our listeners aware that some of those things you see advertised on TV for health insurance you don’t have or supplemental insurance you don’t have, they are scam artists. Now there are definitely legitimate companies online and on the radio and TV advertising, but that’s where the crooks are too. So be aware of that. You’ve got to ask questions.

We had the Insurance Commissioner from the State of Wisconsin, Sean Dilweg, on so I urge you to check out that replay. We also talked yesterday about other issues with medical fraud where they’re may be people stealing your identity, so pay attention to that. Check your credit reports. Keep things confidential because that can cause you big problems as well.

Today we’re going to get into the area of medical malpractice. Later on in the program we’re going to meet a journalist I really admire, that’s Michael Berens, an investigative reporter from the Seattle Times. We’d previously done a program with him, and we’re going to tell you about some clinics around the country that hook you up to wires and blinking lights purporting to help you take away your pain or cure your cancer. It’s a total scam, and we don’t want you to be harmed or your money to be lost with that.

Short of that, there are healthcare providers who don’t do what’s right for you, sometimes willfully, and then you think of medical malpractice, or sometimes there are mistakes. So we want to help you navigate all that, and we’ve sought out a leading expert in that, and that’s Professor of Law Tom Baker who’s at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, and he is Director of the Insurance Law Center there. Tom thank you for joining us. I know you’ve written a book about it. It’s debated in Congress. The lawyers and the doctors are going at it. They hate each other sometimes. I have this image of if my dad were still alive and he went to a new doctor and the doctors said, “’Well Mr. Schorr, what do you do?’ And he said, ‘Well I’m an attorney’ and you know the doctor would start getting the shakes or something. I know that the two professions have some tension now, but there really is a malpractice problem. Let’s start to go through it.

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