Medical tort system, compensation funds are answer to liability crisis

LETTER — Posted Feb. 2, 2004

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Looking at the current malpractice situation in this country, I cannot help but write this letter. The fact that there is no solution in sight almost seems like a conspiracy by the powerful against the powerless.

I propose two things: a medical expert panel and a compensation fund.

When a malpractice claim is brought, a medical panel at the state or federal level with experts in those specialties that are involved in the case will investigate the case and, based on standard of care, will come to a conclusion as to whether malpractice has occurred or if it is a case of just bad outcome.

If malpractice has occurred, then the panel can recommend further training, suspension of license or other actions involving the physician.

A state or federal fund will be established that will compensate patients for their injuries if any malpractice by a physician has occurred. This amount will be based on the extent of the injury, any future medical costs and loss of income.

This fund could be paid into by physicians and through taxes. Just as we pay Medicare and Social Security. And when people know how hard it is to pay an extra "malpractice tax," they will realize how physicians are struggling with this.

We pay taxes to protect ourselves from terrorist attacks; we also should pay taxes to help us out when malpractice has occurred. Physicians will pay based upon their specialty, years of practice and previous malpractice cases. (The few bad apples will pay more.)

The result of this system will be that the physician will be disciplined by the panel to guard against further incidents. Meanwhile, the fund will pay the money based upon the panel's recommendations.

There will not be any more private malpractice insurance companies charging ridiculous premiums. Greedy attorneys and emotional juries will be out of the picture.

Medicine is a complex field that cannot be left in laymen's hands.

Vijay Mattewada, MD, Cumming, Ga.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/02/02/edlt0202.htm.

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