Back at my old blog, I didn’t use a comments section. When I think an excellent point has been made, I want to make sure everyone sees it. And, sometimes, I get emails that no one else would see without my reposting them. Here’s one:
I’m surprised that you would reprint this study which has obvious problems. There was an accompanying editorial in the journal which pointed out that it had problems. I don’t understand why any journal would print a study with problems, but maybe they wanted to bash on doctors. The real problem is that America is too litigious. We need to cap damages and stop trying to blame doctrors.
It surprises me how quickly many of you responded to my earlier post by cutting and pasting from the editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine pointing out the limitations of the study. I don’t disagree that the study (like all studies) has limitations. Nor do I overestimate its generalizability. In fact, I took special care not to make my original post an argument that we should (or could) all adopt the Michigan system.
However, there is a fair amount of evidence out there that improving communication skills and being more personable is associated with fewer malpractice suits. This study adds to that literature. And, yet, the general perception I see from many in the media is surprise that this might work.
I read stories all the time about the cost of defensive medicine, how doctors are afraid of being sued, and how the system is clogged with frivolous cases. Here is yet one more example that all of that might be reduced by better communication with patients. Better communication also has the side benefit of likely improving care and the quality of the patient-doctor relationship.
What’s the downside? What’s the risk? Why would anyone fight this?