This past November at the 2013 State Legislature Conference in Broomfield, Colorado, a new model of the “patients’ compensation system” took center stage. The approach, which has been introduced as a bill in the Georgia legislature, addresses issues with the current malpractice system. Namely, a general failure to deter unsafe practices, proper compensation for injured patients, and end results that assist correcting problems in the health care system on a whole.
The new model was presented to attendees of the conference by Senator Brandon Beach of the Georgia and Wayne Oliver, executive director of Patients for Fair Compensation. The system in place today tends to inhibit proper access to justice for affected patients. The current system awards less than 20 percent of injured patients any compensation at all, and less than 1 percent receives a jury award as well.
The new proposed system would transfer medical malpractice suits into negotiating committees rather than the courts. This 11 member board of physicians, patient advocates, hospital administrators, business leaders, an accountant and an attorney would manage the compensation system including the approval of a compensation schedule and the authority to adjust provider operational contributions.
Should this new model for malpractice be adopted, it claims it would benefit both patient and physician alike. For a physician, they would never be sued for malpractices again, face no personal financial risk, never be assigned blame and the process would allow the provider to speak openly about mistakes made without the concern for admission of guilt.
A few of the claimed benefits for patients include a system in place where they are assured their complaint will be reviewed, payments occurring within months rather than years, and fair compensation for their claim. Unfortunately, without a right to a jury trial, patients, in fact, will be at serious risk of receiving only a fraction of what is “fair compensation.” Certainly, the winners will be the doctors, hospitals and malpractice insurers who will avoid accountability to the innocent patients. Of course, this would be completely unfair.