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updated: 8/26/2011 4:38 AM

Medical lawsuit headline off mark

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Newspaper readership is declining -- and that's just among the corps of Daily Herald headline writers. How else can you explain your Aug. 18 front-page headline, "Medical lawsuits rarely frivolous" above a story reporting the exact opposite.

The story says that amid an avalanche of malpractice suits, the vast majority -- 80 percent -- result in zero payout to the plaintiffs, meaning they were not able to prove that their cases had merit. Also, the actual number of valid cases is undoubtedly far less than the 20 percent who got paid.

Even if defendants win, they lose because they will not recoup their time and attorneys' fees. Not all unsuccessful lawsuits are frivolous, but any attorney will tell you that many meritless cases settle, and result in a payout, because of the high cost of defense.

This enriches the trial lawyers, who have defeated common sense tort reform in the Illinois Supreme Court. It also drives up the cost of medical care for all of us, including unnecessary "defensive medicine."

We need more informed citizens thinking critically, beyond the headlines.

Mark O. Stern