COMMENTARY

Drug-Dealing Doctor Faces Up to 200 Years in Jail; More

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA

Disclosures

February 20, 2014

In This Article

Malpractice Reform Efforts Hit a Time Crunch

The clock is ticking for Georgia lawmakers who would like to revamp the state's medical malpractice system, explains a January 14 posting on Georgia Health News.[7]

The time crunch is the result of a legislative session that has been shortened to accommodate party primaries, which will be held in May.

GOP State Senator Brandon Beach has been pushing his liability reform bill for 2 years, but both he and his party's leadership know that it faces long odds during a short session.

The reason? Beach would like to replace the state's current mechanism for resolving med-mal claims with an administrative system resembling Georgia's existing workers' compensation board. Under such a system, injured parties "would have their cases judged by a board of medical, legal, and business professionals rather than a jury of...[their] peers." Reorganizing the process in this way, Beach argues, would help to reduce healthcare costs, in large part by reducing the practice of defensive medicine. If passed, Georgia's Patient Compensation Board, as it would be called, would be the first in the nation.

But Georgia's trial lawyers think Beach's proposal flouts the constitution, denying "medical malpractice claimants their right to a jury trial."

If the 2 sides are ever to work out a compromise, one thing is virtually certain: It'll take a lot longer than 3 months to do so.

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