In a recent article for The New York Times, the expert on the US economy Peter Orszag talked about how Congress had missed a golden opportunity to protect doctors. According to the former Director of the Office for Budget and Management, medical professionals were ordering more tests than necessary in order to protect them from lawsuits that could damage their integrity. This was verified by a speech by President Obama in which he referenced statistics from the American Medical Association.
It has also been proven through Orszag's article, and research from independent bodies, that new clinical guidelines which are imposed for the safety of patients can normally take years to take effect. In the publication, he added: "The laws, no matter how weak or stringent, may therefore explain why doctors in some parts of the country generally adopt much more intensive approaches than those in other areas do.
"The traditional way to reform medical malpractice law has been to impose caps on liability -- for example, by limiting punitive damages to something like $500,000. A far better strategy would be to provide safe harbor for doctors who follow evidence-based guidelines."
Orszag went further to explain what the current policies are to protect the interests of healthcare experts, and he even explained that trials are currently underway in select states to ensure doctors are not liable if they are responsible in their medical practice - and follow the procedure that is commonly expected of them.
In addition, Peter Orszag also argued that there should be a drive to improve the incentives that hospitals are given to provide care to their patients. At present, there are only bonuses if medical centers give needy patients meet ambitious targets for the number of people treated. Instead, experts like Peter Orszag believe that quality not quantity should be rewarded - and this would mean that more financial subsidies need to be set aside to ensure that doctors are driven to improve the wellbeing of the people that they serve.
He concluded the article with one financial suggestion: "Better technology would help, too. Your doctor's computer should be able to not only pull up your health records (after you have approved such access) but also quickly suggest best-practice methods of treatment."
It seems that there is still plenty more to be done with healthcare reform. However, as a bill has just been passed, it's yet to be seen when further developments can be made.
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