In yesterday's Wall Street Journal Philip Howard makes the case for tort reform, and explains why it's not happening:
Eliminating defensive medicine could save upwards of $200 billion in health-care costs annually. . .
A few thousand trial lawyers are blocking reform that would benefit 300 million Americans. This it not just your normal special interest politics. It is a scandal--it is as if international-trade policy was being crafted in order to get fees for customs agents. . . .
Trial lawyers also suggest they alone are the bulwark against ineffective care, citing a 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine that 'over 98,000 people are killed every year by preventable medical errors.' But the same study found that distrust of the justice system contributes to these errors by chilling interaction between doctors and patients Trails lawyers haven't reduced the errors. They've caused the fear.
Howard recommends pilot program to create special medical courts. If they work, they could be expanded.