August 02, 2006

Imagine All the Life-Saving Products

John Stossel has a good piece in RealClearPolitics today that discusses the harms that suit-happy trial lawyers wreak upon the health care industry (doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers). We're all aware of the financial harms, such as expensive litigation, rising health and malpractice insurance premiums, and expensive tests performed in the service of defensive medicine. In contrast, the less tangible damage inflicted by the trial bar often goes unnoticed. But not by Stossel. He notes that, as a result of trial lawyers' assault on the health care industry,

  • doctors become secretive, talk less openly with patients, and refuse to acknowledge mistakes;
  • medical device manufacturers stick to older, proven technologies, rather than pursuing technological advances; and
  • new, potentially life-saving drugs never leave the lab.

Stossel concludes "We can't even begin to imagine the life-saving products that might have existed – if innovators didn't live in a climate of fear." I would add that the trial bar is grateful that we can't imagine the intangible costs of their greed. If we could, we'd never stand for it.