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Comment and Controversy

Opening doctor files would cure many ills

April 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 4
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In response to Dr. Barbieri’s February editorial, “3 strikes and you’re out of a job,” I think patients should have the right to see records of a physician’s adverse medical incidents, including peer review and quality assurance documents. If they did, you would not need 3 strikes—you would knock the real culprit out of a job without wasting court battles, precious time, and resources.

This would also decrease the number of frivolous lawsuits; so-called professional experts would no longer be needed; legal manipulations would become obsolete; and mediations and arbitrations would prevail. The result: lower costs for litigation, and more reasonable patient compensation. We would pay low liability premiums, or liability insurance would be replaced by a fund to compensate patients for physician negligence. The community would benefit from better health care at lower costs.

We all would win—maybe even trial lawyers, who would be liberated from making millions from other people’s suffering.

Hamid H. Sheikh, MD
Lexington, Ky

Dr. Barbieri responds:

I respect Dr. Sheikh’s opinion, but I worry that open access to the peer review process would actually reduce patient safety. If the confidentiality of the process were compromised, peer review deliberations would become tepid and ineffective. In my opinion, this would lead to more litigation, not less.

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