Feb 08 2013

Medical Justice Applauds Georgia Plan to Replace Medical Tort System

Published by at 5:27 pm under Healthcare Reform

For Immediate Release:

Medical Justice today endorsed the “Patient Injury Act,” a proposal introduced in the Georgia Senate to replace the state’s broken medical malpractice system with a no-blame, administrative model that will fairly compensate patients and decrease the practice of defensive medicine.

The “Patient Injury Act” would eliminate the current adversarial, legal system in which doctors are often sued for frivolous reasons. In the current system, both doctors and patients are consumed by an inefficient process that lasts for years. Patients who have been harmed would file a claim for review by an independent panel of medical experts. If the panel deemed “avoidable harm” occurred, the claim would be forwarded to a Compensation Board to award compensation.

“Our current malpractice system is severely broken. The Patients’ Compensation System would certainly be aligned philosophically with our ideas at Medical Justice to create bold change in how we address those who are injured by medical treatment,” said Dr. Jeff Segal, founder of Medical Justice.

While tort reforms have made it less onerous to pay for professional liability premiums, they have had little impact on defensive medicine. Defensive medicine is the ordering of tests and the performance of procedures with one thing in mind – to avoid being sued. “As a country, we have to get a handle on defensive medicine and this certainly gets us there,” Segal said

The Gallup organization says up to one in four dollars spent in healthcare can be attributed to defensive medicine. BioScience Valuation, a company that specializes in healthcare economics and financing, estimates that defensive medicine costs in the United States run about $270 to $650 billion annually. It found a Patients’ Compensation System could reduce defensive medicine costs as much as $2.6 trillion over a decade as doctors change their behavior.

The Georgia General Assembly will consider the “Patient Injury Act” this winter in its 40-day legislative session. It must adopt the proposal in the Senate and House and be signed by Gov. Nathan Deal to become law.

“I urge doctors throughout the country who want to see our malpractice system replaced with one that removes the target off the backs of physicians to call Georgia lawmakers and urge passage of this plan,” Dr. Segal said. “Georgia could be the flashpoint of a revolution to cure our malpractice crisis.”

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Medical Justice Applauds Georgia Plan to Replace Medical Tort System”

  1. Michael M. Rosenblatt, DPMon 08 Feb 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Regrettably, this new law has not a chance of passing. Even as I write this, plaintiff’s bar is organizing, committing funds and lobbying efforts to avert its passing. To them, this is an unmitigated, must stop, emergency.

    Plaintiff’s attorneys, who usually cannot tolerate to even be in the same room with each other, will get together to cooperate and even speak to each other. They reserve their “civil” moments with each other to these “desperate” situations.

    Checks are being written. Calls to lobbyists and legislators are being made. They are searching for clients to put on TV to make commercials that will make voters cry. Attorneys who argue with their wives for buying a coat will donate 10,000 dollars for their first payment to the defense fund.

    Advertising agencies have already been hired. Their creative employees are preparing arguments that would make Clarence Darrow blush.

    No, not a CHANCE of passing. This will be stopped before it leaves the first committee.

    Michael M. Rosenblatt, DPM

  2. C Nelson-Horanon 08 Feb 2013 at 9:41 pm

    “I urge doctors throughout the country who want to see our malpractice system replaced with one that removes the target off the backs of physicians to call Georgia lawmakers and urge passage of this plan,” Dr. Segal said.

    How about making it easy for us?
    Can you post names/websites/office phone numbers/addresses of said Georgia lawmakers?
    Can you post a sample script for a phone conversation?
    Can you post a sample letter that we can copy, sign, print, and mail?

    Don’t get our hopes up with this article then leave a big hurdle for us to jump. Make it as simple as possible for us to help, right now, before we leave for our next shifts.

    - Cathy Nelson-Horan, MD

  3. Craig Desoer, M.D.on 09 Feb 2013 at 2:41 am

    Well, I wouldn’t call this a no-blame system. If a panel of medical experts determines that the patient suffered an avoidable harm, I think that puts the blame on the physician or health care team. That being said, this system is much, much better than placing decisions of culpability on lay juries with little to no knowledge of health care practice. It’s too reasonable and common-sense to make it into law, most likely.

  4. Medical Justiceon 09 Feb 2013 at 8:03 am

    Cathy:

    Thanks for your note.

    “How about making it easy for us?
    Can you post names/websites/office phone numbers/addresses of said Georgia lawmakers?
    Can you post a sample script for a phone conversation?
    Can you post a sample letter that we can copy, sign, print, and mail?”

    The bill was just filed yesterday. Will take action on all of your items shortly and post here – as well as via e-blast.

    Jeff Segal, MD

  5. Medical Justiceon 09 Feb 2013 at 7:03 pm

    For those interested in the bill presented in the Georgia State Senate.

    · Here is a link to the actual bill, SB 141: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/SB/141

    · Here is a listing of all State Senators: http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx

    · Here is a fact sheet which will assist any physician in discussing the bill with Senators: http://www.patientsforfaircompensation.org/media/7142/pfc_wp-0612_lr.pdf

    · Here is a link to the Resource Center: http://www.patientsforfaircompensation.org/resource-center/

    · Here is the press release which was issued yesterday when the bill was introduced: http://www.patientsforfaircompensation.org/microsites/georgia/news/“patient-injury-act”-introduced-in-georgia-legislature/

  6. Joseph L Tate, MDon 10 Feb 2013 at 6:35 pm

    The problem here is that , just as Georgia’s cap on non-economic damages was ruled unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court (the Georgia constitution gives right to assess damages solely to juries), this law, if passed, will probably suffer the same fate. Only a Geogia costitutional ammendment will work. And, you know the chances of that!

  7. Medical Justiceon 10 Feb 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Dr. Tate:

    Thanks for your post.

    There are good reasons to believe the proposed system would withstand constitutional scrutiny without the need for a constitutional amendment.

    POLICY EXPERIMENTATION WITH ADMINISTRATIVE COMPENSATION FOR MEDICAL INJURY: ISSUES UNDER STATE CONSTITUTIONAL LAW By M. Mello, et al.
    Harvard J Legis 2008;45:59-106

    This Article describes the potential challenges and assesses how health court systems would likely fare. The Article focuses on state constitutional law, but much of the analysis also applies to federal claims. The Article’s conclusions are informed by an analysis of 132 cases involving a range of constitutional challenges to malpractice reforms enacted in 1985–86 and 1974–75. The analysis tracks the success rates of these challenges. This scorecard is pertinent because health courts include many of the features found in previous reforms. However, health courts’ core feature—vesting exclusive jurisdiction in a tribunal that does not employ juries—lacks precedent in medical malpractice law. To understand the tests and frameworks that would be applied to this feature, this Article analyzes judicial opinions interpreting jury-trial and open-courts provisions of state constitutions. Recognizing that a dominant theme in this jurisprudence is the requirement of a “quid pro quo” when claimants’ rights are limited, the Article considers the social bargain presented by health courts proposals, focusing on the potential for improved access to compensation for claimants and greater reliability of decision-making. The Article concludes that a carefully designed health courts pilot could withstand constitutional scrutiny in many states.

  8. Robert Modugno MDon 17 Feb 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Not only the plaintiff’s attorneys, but the Medical Association of Georgia is against the bill!

  9. Medical Justiceon 17 Feb 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Dr. Modugno:

    It is unusual indeed when the trial bar is on the same side of the table as organized medicine.

    As Machiavelli eloquently expounded in The Prince:

    It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.