Health courts could solve malpractice

Washington Times
Thursday, June 9, 2005

Health courts, along with non-economic judgment caps and tighter regulation of the insurance industry, might constitute an effective approach to solve the problem of how best to reform medical-malpractice litigation, a panel of experts said.
The Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank, hosted the panel on Capitol Hill this week to discuss how health courts could benefit doctors, lawyers and most of all patients who have been injured in malpractice cases.
 Will Marshall, the institute's president, said the current litigation system is "broken and in need of radical reform." He said one current problem is the issue is being debated along political lines, with Republicans arguing that non-economic caps are necessary and Democrats attempting to protect the lawyers.
 Marshall said the issue is more complicated than merely choosing sides, however. More often than not, the patient loses under the current system and some of the reform proposals offer "false choices between phony solutions."
The PPI's solution, he told reporters, is to establish a system of health courts that would function similar to patent and bankruptcy courts by eliminating juries and maintaining judges with specialized experience.

 "These proposals are being sold to the public as good for patients, but in fact they would be devastating for many, especially the most severely injured," Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York City, told UPI. "This is yet another attempt by the healthcare industry to limit its liability exposure by proposing to take compensation judgments away from juries, and replacing the jury system with a statutory structure over which their political action committee money can have more control."
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