A proposed new bill in Georgia seeks to take medical malpractice cases out of the court system and treat them more like worker’s compensation cases.
Introduced by Sen. Brandon Beach (R), the bill suggests that patients take claims against healthcare providers to a patient injury board that consists of physicians, patient advocates and attorneys, rather than filing a traditional lawsuit.
If the board decides that compensation for an error is warranted, it will be paid out of a fund that all providers pay into – similar to the no-fault system covering workplace injuries. The purpose of the proposed bill is to simplify the system and reduce malpractice insurance premiums for physicians, as well as to reduce health insurance costs for patients.
Physicians who practice “defensive medicine” in order to avoid lawsuits has led to skyrocketing healthcare costs in the state, according to Sen. Beach. He maintains that the new system will help patients get compensated faster and more easily.
Some supporters believe that the bill would help patients get compensated for errors that are too small to provide incentive for a lawyer to take on the case. Trial lawyers, however, are not supportive of the bill, and contend that it violates the 7th amendment right to a trial by jury.