Medical Ethics and Media-Created Crisis: A Case Study in Medical Malpractice Reform

Abstract
The objective of this study was to determine the extent of decline in level of access and quality of services reported by healthcare consumers during a media campaign to limit recovery for damages incurred through medical malpractice. Serving as a natural experiment, this campaign involved a widely publicized statewide "malpractice crisis," promoted as causing mass exodus of medical providers from the state. The resulting reduction in services, especially for the most underserved areas and populations, though unproven, had been touted as justification for amending the state constitution. Patient survey responses collected during the crisis indicated relatively high levels of satisfaction with access and quality of care during the publicized crisis . Similar organized malpractice crises examined from previous years suggest that policymakers should demonstrate caution when responding to a perceived crisis, especially when economic benefit for a particular interest group is at stake. Further, a lack of ethics in media through inaccurate reporting and sensationalism may lead to a seductive invitation to like ethical lapses by medical professionals in their attempts to shape policy through artificial crises creation
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