NewTalk tag:newtalk.org,2008-02-07://2 2013-06-05T16:30:37Z Where experts discuss America's toughest issues Movable Type Publishing Platform 4.02a NewTalkers Philip K. Howard and Stuart Taylor on Medical Liability Reform tag:newtalk.org,2009://2.97 2009-10-05T17:00:39Z 2009-10-05T20:29:16Z Last Tuesday, Sepetember 29, found NewTalk Founder (and frequent New Talker) Philip K. Howard in the Wall Street Journal with an op-ed titled "Why Medical Malpractice Reform is Off Limits." In the piece, Howard laments that even though serious reform... Admin Last Tuesday, Sepetember 29, found NewTalk Founder (and frequent New Talker) Philip K. Howard in the Wall Street Journal with an op-ed titled "Why Medical Malpractice Reform is Off Limits." In the piece, Howard laments that even though serious reform to the current medical malpractice system could save upwards of $200 billion annually, and even though there's broad support for it—including from a number of parient safety groups—"this is the one reform Washington will not seriously consider." This, Howard argues, is due in large part to the fact that trial lawyers are a powerful lobby, and among the largest contributors to the Democratic party. "Trial lawyers trade on the unreliability of [the current] justice [system]," Howard explains, and this creates a culture of litigation that is unequipped to distinguish good medical care from bad.

Howard proposes specialized, expert health courts as a potential remedy for the unreliable justice of medical malpractice litigation. Howard counters with a modest proposal the claim (often put forward by trial lawyers) that "any alternative to the current medical malpractice justice system...will only make it more difficult for injured patients to seek justice":

That's why you start with a pilot project. If these courts are unfair they will be rejected. But if they succeed—that is, are fairer to patients and doctors—they could provide a solid foundation for rebuilding an effective, less costly health-care system than we have today.
[Wall Street Journal]


In the October 3rd edition of the National Journal, NewTalker Stuart Taylor expands on Howard's theme in a piece titled "Wasting Billions, Doing Injustice.” Like Howard, Taylor aruges that America’s current medical liability system may be good for trial lawyers, but it's bad for patients and doctors, and a major factor in the overall high cost of health care because it encourages doctors to practice defensive medicine.

Taylor also endorses a system of expert health courts, calling it the “most promising proposal” to reform America's current liability system:

By efficiently separating valid from invalid claims, health courts could award malpractice victims more-timely, more-certain compensation, with far lower legal and administrative costs. Health courts would also better protect blameless doctors and thus reduce defensive medicine.

[National Journal]

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