On Average, Physicians Spend Nearly 11 Percent of Their 40-Year Careers with an Open, Unresolved Malpractice Claim
The average American doctor spends more than four years with an unresolved, open malpractice claim against them, or about 11 percent of a 40-year career. That’s the startling finding of a new study of malpractice by Amitabh Chandra, professor of public policy and director of Health Policy Research at Harvard Kennedy School. Chandra and his coauthors examined a database of more than 40,000 physicians covered by a nationwide insurer. The time spent with an unresolved claim varies widely by specialty, the study found. Neurosurgeons spend 130 months of their careers (or about 27 percent) with an unresolved claim. Psychiatrists spend the least amount of time with an open claim - nearly 16 months, or just over 3 percent of their careers. "The fact that physicians spend such a substantial portion of their careers defending - usually successfully - malpractice claims probably contributes to their negative perceptions of the system," the authors write.
"If demographics is destiny in politics, it is even more true for policy," writes Jeffrey Liebman, professor of public policy, with former Office of Management and Budget colleague Kenneth Baer. "Far from the headlines, the debate over the budget deficit, taxes, and unemployment is being driven by large-scale changes in the American population." As boomers age and retire, spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is increasing by 3.7 percent annually. So even though the government has recently shown historic levels of fiscal discipline, the authors argue, demographic reality cannot be pushed back. "Getting this right matters," they write. "Over the coming weeks, big fiscal policy choices will be made, and many will be looking backward for a guide on how to move forward. But just as the generation that once proclaimed ‘don’t trust anyone over 30’ has had to face the reality of gray hair and grandkids, the new economics of the baby boom dictate that we must deal with the country and economy we have today — not the one in the history books."
"Beneath the Arab political revolutions lies a deeper and longer process of radical change that is sometimes called the information revolution," writes Joseph Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor. "We cannot yet fully grasp its implications, but it is fundamentally transforming the nature of power in the 21st century, in which all states exist in an environment that even the most powerful authorities cannot control as they did in the past." The incredible advances in computing and communications have allowed individuals and private organizations to play a more direct role in world politics. "But it would be a mistake to ‘over-learn’ the lessons that the Arab revolutions have taught about information, technology, and power," Nye writes. "While the information revolution could, in principle, reduce large states’ power and increase that of small states and non-state actors, politics and power are more complex than such technological determinism implies. Governments and large states still have more resources than information-empowered private actors, but the stage on which they play is more crowded. How will the ensuing drama unfold? Who will win, and who will lose? It will take decades, not a single season, to answer such questions."
"The most dangerous message North Korea sent [in February] with its third nuclear weapon test is: nukes are for sale," warns Graham Allison, Dillon Professor of Government and director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. "The significance of this test is not the defiance by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, of demands from the international community. The real significance is that this test was, in the estimation of American officials, most likely fueled by highly enriched uranium, not the plutonium that served as the core of North Korea’s earlier tests. Testing a uranium-based bomb would announce to the world — including potential buyers — that North Korea is now operating a new, undiscovered production line for weapons-usable material. Given America’s failure to hold Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, accountable when he sold Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, the technology from which to make a bomb, could the younger Mr. Kim imagine that he could get away with selling a nuclear weapon or bomb-making material? The urgent challenge is to convince him and his regime’s lifeline, China, that North Korea will be held accountable for every nuclear weapon of North Korean origin."