Previously on this blog I have discussed some of the issues with medical malpractice in the United States and some potential alternatives. In this post Potential Alternatives to the Current Medico-Legal System in the United States I talk about some possible alternatives such as having some agreement directly with the physician and hence avoiding trial lawyers. In this provocative post How to Improve Your Chances to Win a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit I discuss the 4 elements you need to win a malpractice suit in the U.S. and a possible suggestion to help improve your chances of doing so.
Last year, Kevin Pho known as “social media’s leading physician voice” discussed in a post written on July 16, 2012, titled “The New York medical malpractice crisis: Who’s to blame?,” how some financially struggling hospitals are going without medical malpractice insurance and just going bare as they say. He describes how if hospitals don’t have malpractice insurance than lawyers and patients will go after doctors who may have individual policies.
Kevin says that conservatives have failed in their effort for tort-reform by focusing only on non-economic damage caps. Physician groups such as the AMA, ADA, and AAOMS have also seemed to focus more on this effort which I have touched on before such as in this provocative post The War on Healthcare: Patients Who Hate Doctors.
Kevin also argues that progressives favor the interests of trial lawyers and attorneys and ignore the impact of medical malpractice on health providers and those providing care. Clearly no one wants to see doctors and hospitals risking bankruptcy while providing needed care to patients.
Kevin does mention how medical malpractice reform has been re-framed for the patient’s perspective recently in New Hampshire by mentioning their early offer system. The website for NH Early Offer is located over at http://www.nhearlyoffer.com/.
On the website it states
“Individuals will be able to resolve their case fairly and quickly – in just four to six months – instead of suffering through several years of litigation, stress, and the risk that they could ultimately lose in court. NH Early Offer also dramatically reduces the cost of resolving medical injury claims. The trickle-down cost savings lowers healthcare costs and benefits businesses and medical offices.”
The site offers some useful insights into how the current malpractice system works for those interested. The site further states
“Once a case is settled under the early offer, the healthcare provider pays the medical bills and wages right away, and all future bills and wages as they become due. If the injured person and the provider prefer to “roll” all of the future payments into a lump sum payment, they can do so.”
This approach seems to assume that the person who received the medical care is working and hence has lost wages that can be paid. The issue I see with this approach is for those still in school such as college and are not yet working a real full time job then how would they be fairly handled by the system?
The NH Early offer program is just an option, patients can still pursue the traditional system.