Malpractice plan would limit trials

Boston Globe
Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Romney administration and the Harvard School of Public Health, seeking to address soaring health care costs driven by medical malpractice lawsuits, are working on a sweeping proposal to move malpractice claims out of state courts and into a new administrative framework much like the state's workers' compensation system.

Under the system envisioned by Robert Pozen, the governor's chief economic adviser, patients' malpractice claims would be resolved not by juries, but by tribunals of administrative law judges. Those panels would determine whether the harm suffered was avoidable and, if it was, they would award damages based on a compensation schedule set by state law.
The system would allow only limited appeals to the courts in cases involving fraud or where it is alleged that the tribunal did not follow its own rules, Pozen said yesterday.

Some lawyers and groups opposed to tort reform have also disputed whether jury trials are the cause of rising malpractice insurance costs, arguing that other factors are to blame, such as lax insurance regulation.
''States that have had effective insurance regulatory laws have not had these problems with skyrocketing rates,'' said Joanne Doroshow, president and executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a group based in Washington, D.C., that has opposed many tort reform proposals.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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