In a desire to cut back on the practice of defensive medicine, fairly compensate injured patients, and fix what many view as a broken court system, several state legislatures are currently considering an entirely new medical malpractice system. Florida, Georgia, Maine, Montana, and Tennessee are all considering a Patient Compensation System which would take medical malpractice cases out of the courts and instead have them resolved by a new administrative panel.
Under the proposed system, an injured patient would file a claim with a panel made up of health care experts and an administrative law judge. If it is determined that avoidable harm caused the patient’s injury, the patient will be quickly and fairly compensated. Proponents argue that this will save years of time and expenses by avoiding the court system and will eliminate the adversarial relationship between patients and clinicians, making it easier for clinicians to acknowledge errors without fear of litigation. Proponents also claim that the Patient Compensation System would cut down on costly defensive medicine tactics, such as unnecessary blood tests, CT scans, referrals to specialists, x-rays, and MRIs. Georgia proponents point to a 2012 survey, where 82% of Georgia clinicians admitted to practicing defensive medicine.
However, not everyone supports the new proposal. In Maine, where the bill’s lead sponsor Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea) said that the proposal could lower health costs and improve patient outcomes, several groups including the Maine Medical Association, Maine Trial Lawyers Association, and Medical Mutual Insurance Company of Maine have been vocal in their opposition to the proposal.