Specialty Courts for Medical Malpractice
A lot of time and money are put into medical malpractice lawsuits in which justice is rarely ever served. There are often more pay outs than actual settlements. The main issues that contribute to the failure of these medical malpractice suits to bring justice to the injured are: the length of the actual lawsuit, economic costs, emotional costs, and most of all jury limitations. People who have suffered tragic injuries from their own doctors need these issues addressed to receive some semblance of justice. One major solution would be to create a specialty court for medical malpractice law suits, but that is only one of several suggested solutions. Another suggestion is called “tort reform without special courts”.
The proposed idea of a “tort reform without special courts” consists of a couple of ideas such as vetting panels beforehand, making sure expert witnesses are certified, limiting attorney costs, placing a limit on how much money is paid, and changing how the damages are paid. The attempts to use this method haven’t been extremely successful. The Columbia Medical Review has found that, “controlled studies encompassing 50 states suggest that on average, these approaches are associated with reductions in claims payment by 20-30% but have only a modest relationship with insurance premiums” (Chodos).
Specialty courts, however, could eliminate all of these problems. Specialty courts will offer judges and jurisdiction that are more focused on the specific case and will possess the knowledge needed to make the correct accusations. Since malpractice cases consist of a variety of medical issues it is important that everyone involved has the experience to provide input in the court room. With these contributors there would be more precise decision making and fewer mistakes. In general courts today need to provide a lot of background information to explain and provide specialized knowledge for the jurors and judges to make the fairest and best decision. With a specialized court this might not be necessary because those involved in the case will have the necessary background information. Less time would be spent trying to educate people on the medical information side. In addition to saving time this would result in more consistent decision making. There are specialized courts for other types of issues such as bankruptcy, taxes, juveniles, and families. All of these courts have been successful in their specified area which is very encouraging that medical malpractice specialty courts would be successful as well.
Since there are so many problems with juries in these types of complicated cases there are other ideas of how it should be handled. One of the most important propositions was by the American Medical Association in 1988. “The AMA proposal involved several levels of independent medical review to determine merit” (Chodos). If the case receives merit then it is sent to a specialty expert physician to decide if it should go to a hearing examiner who will determine the damages. This type of court basically eliminates anything similar to a jury. This way the decision no longer rests in the hands of uneducated citizens, but rather special judges with both scientific and medical backgrounds. In the AMA plan the judges are picked out by the courts rather than each side picking them. This creates a stronger possibility that an educated and correct decision will be reached. It has been stated that in “medical malpractice cases, in order to be proven, require a demonstration of a violation of a standard of care by the defendant. In a health care court, standards of care could be set as procedural matters by the judge more specifically than the curtain ‘generic’ definition of standard of care” (Chodos). In malpractice cases the standard type of care is shown differently coming from each side. With one standard that would be set in a specialty court it would be much easier to reach a common ground on what it means to have violated the standard care or not. Overall a medical court would make the decision which would be easier not to mention more just.
There are concerns, however, with changing the court system relating to medical cases. Critics believe that, “without this financially driven filter, so the argument goes, more victims with less severe injuries could gain access to the courtroom” (Chow 5). This could be the case, but it would also allow the people with serious injuries a better chance. Another concern is that this would only benefit the patients, but actually it could also benefit the physicians as well; “by taming the soaring cost of malpractice insurance often attributed to the unpredictable application of medical standards by over compassionate juries” (Chow 5). Overall a special court would be fair and beneficial for both sides despite these concerns. With these solutions being discussed there is also something to be said about the absence of a jury in a courtroom. As Americans we have become accustomed to juries. In fact, “the Constitution guarantees jury trials for matters over the amount of $20” (Chodos). Fortunately, this rule only applies to Federal courts not State courts, which is where most malpractice cases occur. Another argument against specialized courts would be the fact that they would be smaller and further apart location wise. There is also a chance for special interest groups to have an influence on these specialized courts. With all of these aspects being taken into consideration justice outweighs them all. The whole point of a court system is to bring solutions that make America, as a country, feel fair and j. The idea of a specialized court will bring justice to the malpractice cases of the future if it is allowed.
With the issues involved in medical malpractice lawsuits something must be done to improve the current situation. In the case of medical malpractice lawsuits justice would be much better served if a specialty court would be developed. It could set clarified standards around the specific needs of trying negligent doctors and addressing the unfairness of the system relating to the patient. The solution of a specialized court for malpractice cases would bring many positives to the table. It would allow for efficiency, judge expertise, informed and better decision making, and overall better compensation for injured parties who have already suffered losses .It is a situation that calls for changes to the system. Those who have suffered serious injuries from medical malpractice should have a more just resolution by a system that is based on justice.
Chodos, Joel E. “Should There Be Specialty Courts for Medical Malpractice Litigation?” Columbia Medical Review. N.p., 22 June 2015. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.
Chow, Emily. “Health Courts: An Extreme Makeover of Medical Malpractice with Potentially Fatal Complications.” Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics 7 (2013): 3-5. 3 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.
Robben, Janine. “Welcome to the Oregon State Bar Online.” Welcome to the Oregon State Bar Online. N.p., Apr. 2005. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.