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Georgia considering alternative to medical malpractice lawsuits

In order to protect themselves financially in a medical malpractice lawsuit, many doctors in Georgia carry medical malpractice insurance, although this type of insurance is not required of medical practitioners in the state. Doctor errors happen all the time not only in Georgia, but across the country. If a medical mistake that resulted in the personal injury or death of a patient was determined to be preventable, victims are entitled to compensation. If a doctor does not carry malpractice insurance, he or she must cover the compensation directly.

Lawmakers in Georgia are currently considering a type of system that may reform medical malpractice lawsuit procedures. Instead of going to court after a hospital error, a panel consisting of healthcare experts would review the circumstances. If the mistake was determined to be preventable, the patient would be compensated. This type of no-fault procedure is known as a patients’ compensation system (PCS).

How would a PCS affect patients, and would it be beneficial? In a study at Emory University in Atlanta, researchers determined that the system could potentially reduce healthcare costs for Georgia consumers by $7 billion annually. With a PCS, physicians may avoid ordering unnecessary tests and other expensive and time-consuming procedures that they currently utilize to protect themselves against medical malpractice lawsuits.

It remains to be seen whether such a measure will be adopted in Georgia and if it will benefit the relationship between doctors and patients. In any case, when a doctor error occurs that results in serious complications, patients can get help by consulting with a personal injury attorney.

Source: FierceHealthFinance, "Patient compensation system could replace malpractice torts," Ron Shinkman, Nov. 9, 2014

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