We all know the problem with oil companies: They restrict supply to drive up prices to earn profit margins that are nearly a third of those earned by Microsoft while simultaneously keeping prices too low and promoting addiction to oil which produces a lot of CO2 and they never want to reinvest their profits in exploring for new oil so the government needs to restrict drilling in every major prospective US region so the oil companies will be stopped from greedily drilling everywhere and destroying the environment.
Barack Obama seems to be bringing this damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't criticism to the medical industry, and particularly doctors.
On the one hand, he told doctors at the AMA convention yesterday that he was not a fan of tort reform and felt that limits on malpractice cases was a disservice to those who were truly injured.
On the other hand he made this case:
Not long ago, doctors' decisions were rarely questioned. Now they are being blamed for a big part of the wasteful spending in the nation's $2.5 trillion health care system. Studies have shown that as much as 30 cents of the U.S. health care dollar may be going for tests and procedures that are of little or no value to patients.
The Obama administration has cited such findings as evidence that the system is broken. Since doctors are the ones responsible for ordering tests and procedures, health care costs cannot be brought under control unless they change their decision-making habits.
On the third hand, doctors aren't spending enough to address preventable errors:
President Obama himself in his speech cited the "100,000 deaths a year" figure as if it's reliable and well established, as did yesterday's New York Times. And of course it's a figure eagerly spread by the Litigation Lobby. But as Zachary F. Meisel and Jesse M. Pines note in Slate, it's a really, really, really soft number:
...one of the biggest headlines of all was the 1999 Institute of Medicine report To Err Is Human, which announced that up to 98,000 preventable deaths occur each year in U.S. hospitals. Since then, health care improvement organizations such as Leapfrog Group have invested copious resources in reducing preventable errors. But a key issue has been overlooked in this movement: The original estimate -- the 98,000 deaths -- may have been way off. In fact, some of the researchers who conducted the original studies used in the IOM report re-evaluated their data in 2002 and reported that had they used a different calculation method, the number of estimated deaths would have been less than 10 percent of the original. Oops.