Thursday, January 17, 2008


Althouse has a post on a malpractice suit that has stirred up some emotion. Real emotion, too, not the sort of faux-outrage that typically accompanies political stuff.

It's probably just an example of self-selection, but a lot of people in the commentary have suffered losses from medical malpractice. (I can count three losses in my own life so far, two of which have had a profound effect.) I've heard that iatrogenic (doctor-caused) causes of death are the #1 killer in this country, and I tend to believe it.

At the same time, I think it's clear that malpractice suits exacerbate the situation. One of my heroes is a midwife who delivers children naturally, with her only stipulation being that it has to be what's best for the child (and secondarily, the mom). She says "We don't do natural childbirth because it's fun or pleasant, but because it's what's best." And she insists that women go to the hospital when necessary, no matter how much they want to deliver naturally.

Legally, it's hard to imagine many more precarious situations to be in, because there are legal requirements as to what has to be done. This is sheer insanity, of course, and probably high among the things that will undo us. She's in particularly precarious situation because she's not even a doctor, and she can (and has) come under attack from over-zealous establishment types who feel she's cut into their bottom line.

But despite the many problems I've had with doctors, it's clear there are some great and heroic ones out there, risking their life and livelihoods every day.

One day I might even go to one of them.

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