Medical malpractice insurance premiums in Dade County, Fla., are perhaps the most expensive in the nation, forcing many clinicians to make dramatic choices when it comes to coverage.
In response, Florida legislators are thinking hard about reworking the state’s medical malpractice model and incorporating a new patient compensation schema. By utilizing an administrative rather than judicial process for medical malpractice claims, the newly proposed system would closely model the state workers’ compensation system.
The patient compensation system, in its current outline, would replace the current malpractice system in hopes of drastically reducing unnecessary medical costs in the state. Senate Bill 1588/House Bill 1233 proposes to completely overhaul the flailing medical liability process in Florida, creating a new way for patients to gain compensation.
The new system is designed to be non-adversarial, incorporating patient advocates, an independent review panel to determine whether claims have merit, a compensation department devoted to recommending appropriate compensation, oversight by a judge and a quality improvement counsel to develop best practices based on frequently occurring medical errors.
Proponents of the proposed bill argue that the new system is patient-focused, faster and will avoid the high costs and complexity of the current medical liability system. They believe that the bill would reduce malpractice insurance costs for clinicians and curtail the need to practice defensive medicine. The ultimate intention is to increase the quality of health care across the state, protect healthcare providers from unfair litigation and provide injured parties with fair compensation.
Most Florida health-care practitioners are enthusiastic about the bill and the possibilities it presents. According to a statewide survey conducted by Oppenheim Research, 93% of Florida clinicians support this legislation.