Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Tort Reform-What Price for Justice?

Peter R Kowey, MD, FACC, FHRS
Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases
Main Line Health System
Bryn Mawr, PA


KoweyPeter R. Kowey, MD, FACC, FHRS
Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology, Jefferson Medical College
Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Main Line Health System
The William Wikoff Smith Chair in Cardiovascular Research, Lankenau Hospital and Medical Research Center. Wynnewood, PA
Dr. Kowey, is a graduate of St Joseph’s University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at Penn State University and was a Fellow in cardiovascular medicine and research at the Harvard University School of Public Health, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and the West Roxbury VA Hospital.

Dr Kowey’s principal area of interest has been cardiac rhythm disturbances.  He has been the recipient of over 150 grants and has authored or co-authored over 400 papers and scientific reports.  His group has participated in a large number of pivotal clinical trials, many directed by Dr. Kowey himself.  He is the co-editor of 3 textbooks regarding cardiac arrhythmia .  He is a referee for manuscript review for 25 journals and sits on the editorial boards of the Heart Rhythm Journal and the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. He has provided consultation to over 60 international pharmaceutical companies and chaired several data and safety monitoring boards for clinical trials.  While working with industry, he has pioneered the development of many antiarrhythmic drugs and antitachycardia devices that are used around the world for the treatment of patients with life-threatening cardiac rhythm problems.  Dr Kowey also maintains a busy consultative arrhythmia practice and has been recognized as a leader in his field in several international publications. His latest venture is novel writing – his first mystery novel, Lethal Rhythm, was published in 2010,  Deadly Rhythm published in December, 2012,  and the third novel is in preparation.


Tort reform is a hot topic and has been debated as part of health care reform.

Tort reform has recently become a controversial issue in the legal arena. Tort reform commonly refers to laws passed on a state-by-state basis which place limits or caps on the type or amount of damages that may be awarded in personal injury lawsuits. Those who advocate tort reform argue that limitations or caps need to be placed on damages able to be recovered in lawsuits because excessive damage awards create an oppressive tax on the cost of doing business. Advocates of tort reform attribute high costs of certain products or services to be due in part to litigation costs. Those opposed to tort reform argue that such cap or limits on damages are arbitrary and that damages need to be assessed on a case-by case basis because a blanket approach is unfair to severely injured plaintiffs. Opponents also argue that tort reform measures won’t prevent insurance rate hikes.
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Dr Kowey is an advocate of tort reform and argues that it must occur in order for health care to function without doctors feeling they are under threat and therefore forced to practice “defensive” medicine, thus adding to unnecessary costs as well as pain and suffering of patients.

3 Key Points:

  1. The tort system in the US is responsible for a large percentage of unnecessary testing and treatments.
  2. Tort reform is possible and is already in progress in many places in the world.
  3. The public has a poor understanding of the realities of medical practice and his book, Lethal Rhythm was written to give the public a window into the REAL medical world.

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