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Decreasing healthcare cost, one option

Current data suggests that 75% of physicians face a malpractice claim over the course of their career.

These lawsuits add an estimated $70 to $126 billion each year to the cost of health care in this country.

While physicians are human and do make mistakes, their mistakes are not necessarily the result of negligence. Sometimes medical doctors, their agents or employees do all they can and they are still not able to undo or improve an illness or injury or prolong a life.

The question is how to determine when medical doctors have acted negligently.

The Lives, Saving Costs Act (introduced June 2, 2015) is still in the introductory phase. But is does offer a remedy to keeping frivolous lawsuits at bay.

The bill utilizes evidence-based guidelines and essentially creates a safe harbor for physicians who demonstrate they follow best practices.

The guidelines would be based on the best available scientific evidence and created by a group of physicians and be published by the Department of Health and Human Services.

With this bill:

  • A medical malpractice lawsuit involving a federal payor would not go to federal court but instead the physician's adherence to the guidelines would be assessed by an independent review panel of three experts.
  • The panel would decide on the basis of compliance or non-compliance.
  • Each case would be decided on its own merits taking into consideration the surrounding circumstances and human error.
  • While the panel's decision would not be binding, the panel findings would be admissible in court.

The process does not deny individuals or families their right a trial. In fact, the bill calls for maintaining a plaintiff's right to a trial.

The language of the bill reads that if, after the panel finds that the defendant was not negligent, the plaintiff may still pursue the case in court. The only difference is that the burden of proof is heightened from preponderance of evidence to a clear and convincing standard.

The bill is an attempt to allow medical doctors more time with patients and less time in the courtroom. The bill states that utilizing this method would decrease the overall cost of healthcare. What do you think?

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