An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Two states, Florida and Georgia, are doing something about our dysfunctional malpractice system. Legislation in Florida would create a no-fault system modeled after the workers’ compensation system. An independent review panel would evaluate claims based on their merits, and an administrative law judge would be on hand to ensure fairness in the process. A similar reform is being proposed in Georgia. (See more details here.) These efforts are based on the NCPA’s proposal to radically reform the way we encourage medical safety. Because the Florida and Georgia proposals continue to focus on the idea of a “medical error,” they don’t go as far as we would like. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Comments (10)

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  1. Ryan G says:

    Hopefully more states will end up following Florida and Georgia’s initiative.

  2. Anthony S says:

    Our dysfunctional malpractice system…sure is dysfunctional, to say the least. Glad somebody is trying to do something about it.

  3. H. James Prince says:

    Great job Dr. Goodman!

  4. Jardinero1 says:

    I work in the insurance industry and as a professional I face potential tort liability for any errors or omissions I may commit. I am not unique, other professionals like lawyers, accountants, school teachers and engineers also face potential tort liability for errors and omissions which they may commit. It is a fact of life that you are liable for your errors and omissions in the work you do. I, and they, pay through the nose for E&O or professional liability insurance to mitigate against the risk of financial loss from any claims owing to tortious conduct. These other types of professionals get sued and their carriers pay, and sometimes, pay out very large awards.

    Why is it that the medical profession, and not the other professions, cry like babies, about lawsuits and then take active steps to limit recovery for people who suffer genuine losses. I say limit recovery, not limit liability, because that is what these so called “reforms” do. They do not make doctors any less liable for their errors or any less likely to get sued. They only limit the amount that a plaintiff may recover after a loss. This represents a legislative end run around juries who still will determine whether a defendant is liable. Juries are the appropriate party to determine awards, since it is the jury, and the jury only, which has heard the particular facts of a case in an organized and fair manner from both sides.

    Many will reply that most cases are settled. True, but these so called reforms necessarily limit how much an injured party may recover as part of a settlement.

  5. Jardinero1 says:

    I would add that no fault insurance systems typically do the reverse of what they advertise. They encourage numerous small claims and false claims. These numerous small and false claims result in premiums which inflate wildly out of control. No fault auto liability schemes in the various states over the last forty-five years provide a wealth of data which prove out this phenomenon. Most states which adopted no fault auto insurance usually abandoned it.

    No fault has been a moderator on premiums in workers comp only because it limits what doctors may recover from work related injuries.

  6. Linda Gorman says:

    Agree with Jardinero1. No fault has been shown to increase auto premiums because no one has an incentive to ensure that the claim, and its payment, are reasonable. It rapidly turns into all fault in practice and everyone pays.

    Talk about setting up the wrong incentive system.

    Caps on non-economic damages have helped. Another step would be to harmonize government and private systems. The federal government, and most states, have high bars for recovery from government run facilities but have thrown the private sector to the legal wolves.

  7. Stemmy says:

    This is such a great initiative. Got to thank the NCPA for their efforts to create awareness on this issue.

  8. Harlem says:

    Hopefully we’ll see a substantial change on medical safety and how medical errors are approached and dealt with. This is certainly a breath of fresh air for many of us. When you use the right tools and have a great team working together, like that at the NCPA, you come up with great alternatives to solve such important issues. Thumbs up!

  9. CJ says:

    It only makes sense that if you, as a professional (in ANY area), make any serious error and omissions that you are held accountable for it. It’s not a matter of penalizing anyone, or leaving anyone out in the dark after something wrong has been done, but about making sure everyone understands how the system works and that the same rules apply to everyone.

  10. Fernanda says:

    Has that time really come? Or is this just one of those many proposals that are brought up and talked about for a while, and then just get lost in time? This seems like a fantastic initiative. Hopefully it’s given some serious attention.