An alternative way of adjudicating medmal claims?
The discussion over how to overhaul the medical professional liability environment continues to evolve, with the White House this week indicating it would consider some alternative to jury trials. The idea of medical or health courts is discussed in the recent paper by Chad Karls, Retooling Medical Professional Liability. Here is an excerpt.
The facts and testimony delivered at medical liability trials can become dense and arcane, difficult for lay juries to adequately evaluate. Some have proposed the establishment of special medical or health courts, which like family, bankruptcy, or landlord-tenant courts could be set up to hear only cases involving one type of legal conflict—in this case, medical liability claims.
Special medical liability courts could go a long way toward speeding up resolution and reducing the costs of adjudication and the idea is worth further discussion, but there are issues that would have to be addressed. Would cases be heard by special judges alone, or by a predetermined pool of experts in the medical specialty relevant to the claim? It seems unlikely that any one judge, even one with medical training, could be fully conversant with enough areas of medicine to deal with all of the complexities involved in different cases.
Regardless of whether claims are heard by medically trained judges alone or judges and expert juries of medical professionals, the plaintiffs’ bar is unlikely to agree to any system that appears to turn all of the decision-making power in the adjudication process over to the medical community. In February 2006, the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association passed a resolution specifically opposing the creation of health care tribunals.
See the full paper, including citations, here.