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Alternatives to Medical Malpractice Promise Much, Deliver Little

Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Nov 20, 2015 in Medical Malpractice

medical tortsMedical malpractice lawsuits get a bad rap for their lengthy resolutions, high costs, small rewards and hostile nature. In some states there is a movement towards alternative “health courts” to resolve malpractice disputes. But the promise of speedier resolution, reduced costs and more amicable outcomes hasn’t been delivered. In fact, evidence suggests these tribunals may make matters worse.

This isn’t the first time alternatives to the tort system have been proposed. Stanford Law School professor Nora Freeman Engstrom recently published an article questioning the practicality of these alternative health care tribunals by looking at the failures of a program to compensate people injured by vaccines.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created by Congress in 1986 to help process thousands of vaccine injury claims that overwhelmed the courts. The VICP is funded through a 75 cent tax on all vaccines routinely administered to children.

Legislators promised the no-fault program would offer prompt justice to children injured by vaccines with generous compensation in friendly proceedings. They even included a 240-day deadline for adjudication decisions.

In spite of great expectations, the VICP has failed to deliver on its many promises. The average case took more than five years to resolve, far beyond the 240 day limit Congress put in place. The process also left many people bitter and angry, with some hearings being reduced to insult-laden shouting matches.

As it turns out, this attempt to streamline medical injury claim disputes ended up making matters worse.

At least six states have now proposed alternative health care tribunals, which would cover all medical malpractice claims, not just vaccine injuries. The lessons of history should give us pause before we accept such sweeping reforms.

In some ways, this push for health courts is similar to forced arbitration, removing the ability of injured people to sue the negligent party that harmed them. Health courts can easily be stacked against patients, creating unfair outcomes. The medical tort process is the most fair and equitable system for resolving medical injury disputes.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or illnesses due to medical negligence, contact the experienced malpractice lawyers at D’Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC today. We will help you get the maximum compensation you deserve.

Call (866) 848-7077 today for a free consultation.