Wednesday, June 19

Maine One of Handful of States Considering Overhaul to Medical Malpractice Process

Although many lawmakers are constantly trying to introduce legislation that will improve their communities and the general well-being of their constituents, the results often vary. One of the biggest changes a few different states across the nation are considering is to the medical malpractice system currently in place.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Maine is one of those states. Lawmakers in the Pine Tree State are considering a proposal that would fundamentally change the way in which medical malpractice claims are handled and ultimately adjudicated.

The initiative is part of what’s currently a six-state effort by the Georgia-based Patients for Fair Compensation organization. The organization is a nonprofit founded by Richard Jackson, CEO of one of the largest healthcare companies in the country, and wants to establish an entirely new state agency, which would include an expert panel of doctors to hear medical malpractice claims and determine outcomes.

The organization believes that by taking the malpractice process out of the traditional courts and into the hands of this new proposed entity, patients would have a better chance at receiving compensation for smaller injuries, and this help to lower health care costs overall. Proponents of the proposal cited a recent study from Vanderbilt researchers that found the medical malpractice statistics are not great when it comes to patients getting compensation, especially for less serious claims.

“Because of the high cost of medical malpractice investigation and litigation, contingency fee attorneys, who bring the majority of medical malpractice claims, cannot economically justify taking cases that lack sufficient damages to warrant the litigation expense,” the Vanderbilt study theorized.

Of course, medical malpractice has been historically handled by the courts in this country. Opponents of this change argue that creating more bureaucracy would, in fact, raise costs without providing any benefit to the damaged parties.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, as it could have a big impact on how medical malpractice is handled not just in Maine, but potentially across the country.

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