About a week ago, the Augusta Chronicle reported that Georgia state Senator Brandon Beach introduced a bill that would create a hearings-system to handle medical malpractice claims. The bill proposes a system in which patients take complaints of doctor or hospital mistakes to a panel of physicians for hearings rather than to the courts. If the panel concludes compensation is warranted, it pays out of a fund all providers pay into, like the no-fault system that covers on-the-job injuries.
This is not a new idea. The notion of medical malpractice panels has been proposed and discussed many times before with little success. One reason for this is that such systems create a number of problems that are difficult to get around. For example, the proposal could be interpreted as an attempt to take away injured patients’ right to a jury trial. Worse, it could be eliminating the right to a jury trial without providing an alternative system (run by physicians) that offers equal or better protection than our civil justice system. Second, bcause the proposal is modeled on the workers’ compensation system, it will likely suffer from the same flaws as the workers’ compensation system. Third, there is no assurance of fairness when it comes to calculating the value of the injuries. More than likely, the system would end up imposing a de facto cap on injury claims. Finally, the proposal is premised on arguments that have been proven to be false (ie, that reform will reduce health care insurance costs and health care costs in general).
As I have said many times before, the real purpose of proposals like this one is not to eliminate frivolous lawsuits but to make it more difficult for victims to bring valid ones or to reduce the amount to be paid in compensation for them.
Thanks to TortsProf Blog for the link.