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Lawsuit Reform Georgia Style

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, November 04, 2009 12:12 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Medical Malpractice, Tort Reform, Chambliss, Public Citizen, CBO, Health Care Reform

A proposal to cut down on medical malpractice lawsuits would force the injured to pay the other sides fees if they lose in court.

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IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ toe tag following medical malpractice/ author: lisafx


Georgia Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss is known to be a friend to big business.

Now he is addressing the upcoming debate on medical malpractice tort reform that some want to fold into the changes in health care delivery in this country.

Chambliss is co-sponsoring legislation he says would cut down on so-called “frivolous” malpractice lawsuits hoping to win Republican votes in the health care overhaul.

Instead of capping the jury awardsto the injured, Chambliss has been joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, in supporting a so-called “loser pays” legislation that would require those involved in a medical malpractice claim to enter nonbinding arbitration to try and resolve their differences.

Only if that did not resolve the dispute could they go to court, but if the injured loses, he or she would be on the hook to pay the opponents’ legal fees.

In many cases the cost of litigation can total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Chambliss defends the proposal, called the Fair Resolution of Medical Liability Disputes Act of 2009.

In a statement he said, "While no one with a valid claim for medical malpractice should be denied his day in court, those who bring frivolous lawsuits raise the cost of health care for everyone, ‘Loser pays' should go a long way toward discouraging such junk lawsuits and lowering the cost of practicing medicine."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cites a recent report by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative public policy group, that shows ‘loser pays’ laws reduce lawsuits of all kinds.

Chambliss’s press release cites Florida’s "loser pays" rule that applied exclusively to medical malpractice claims from 1980 to 1985. In that time, he says 54 percent of plaintiffs voluntarily dropped their suits, whereas 44 percent did so before and after "loser pays."

Presumably, many truly injured Americans were forced to drop their lawsuits under that provision.

Attorney Robert Peck of the Center for Constitutional Litigation says the proposal is bad for Americans. “It will significantly destroy the access to the courts for patients injured by the negligence of their health care providers.”

Public Citizen’s David Arkush says of the ‘loser pays’ proposal, "This is worse than bad, it’s really ridiculous.”

Public Citizen among others finds that the senators’ proposal is dangerous for patients and unnecessary.

For the third straight year, medical malpractice payments were at record lows, finds a new study released by Public Citizen. The decline, however, is likely due to fewer injured able to receive compensation rather than improvements in the delivery of health care.

Malpractice litigation costs add less than one percent to the cost of health care, according to Public Citizen and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), tort reforms could save about 0.05 percent a year or $11 billion.

The loser pays proposal is based on a British model, but there citizens can purchase insurance to ensure they are not wiped out financially. That type of insurance is not available in the U.S.

Estimates are 98,000 Americans are killed by medical negligence each year. In the most recent investigative report by the Hearst Group, another 100,000 are killed annually by infections obtained in the hospital. #


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Jim OHare VP med mal claims
Thursday, November 05, 2009 11:26 AM EST

Alot of bases were touched in this article.

Loser pays IF arbitration is held and the findings rejected by the loser first.

Change the forum to binding arbitration. Each side gets one expert for liability, causation and damages. Each side picks an arbitor, who then agree on a third. Each side gets 2 hours to present their case and loser pays for the arbitration. This would alleviate the potential for crippling costs attached to losing, for the injured patient, versus the big insurance company.

Loser pays only comes into play if the arbitration opinion is rejected, because the award was not high enough on the plaintiff side, or too high from the doctors view. Taking the process further will stimulate settlement.Isnt this good?

Defensive medicine causes way expensive diagnoses. Who'd care if the costs of care were reasonable? - anybody?

Many claim that 100,000 die from med mal each year - impossible to calculate. If this was true, how do you explain that only 3% of claimed med mal turns into litigation? Rather low, and the Plaintiff bar is missing out on 97% of all wrongful death cases out there ! Really? You get your bunion or hernia fixed and die and nobody starts yelling form the towers of justice. Yikes!

There is plenty of med mal claims to keep me busy since 1985. Job security- eradicating med mal wont happen except for certain cases such as wrong sided surgery.

A true fix requires alot of changes that would affect the core of this lucrative business. Therefore- it wont happen.

Go yankees
Regards Jim

VP Physicians Ins Co Pompano Fl

Comments for this article are closed.

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