Florida Considering Patient Compensation System to Lower Medical Malpractice Insurance Costs

Last week, a Florida state senator and representative proposed legislation intended to replace the current, broken medical malpractice system in the state with an administrative structure modeled after the workers compensation system. Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Jimmy Patronis say that the current medical liability process is adversarial, expensive and inefficient, and the legislation they propose would deflate the cost of medical malpractice insurance and eliminate up to $40 billion per year of medically unnecessary medical costs in Florida.

 

The Compensation for Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Arising Out of Medical Injury Act (SB 1588/HB 1233) would address malpractice compensation claims through an administrative process that would be modeled after the state’s workers compensation system, aligning the shared interests of patients, doctors and taxpayers. The new system would eliminate the practice of defensive medicine, increase the quality of Florida healthcare and ensure real access to justice for those legitimately harmed by healthcare workers. This new system is widely expected to also have a deflating effect on the medical malpractice insurance costs.

 

The Compensation for Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Arising Out of Medical Injury Act was inspired by Patients for Fair Compensation, a nonpartisan Section 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to educating and engaging citizens and policymakers on the negative impact on patient care due to defensive medicine—the practice of ordering medical tests, procedures or consultations of doubtful clinical value in order to protect the prescribing physician fro malpractice lawsuits. According to the organization’s website, SB 1588/HB 1233 would strengthen patients’ rights, ensure real access to real justice for all patients and ensure all patient complaints are heard through an easily navigable administrative system that will cost less than litigation and yield compensation quicker and more often.

 

As Patients for Fair Compensation visualize implementation of the Compensation for Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Arising Out of Medical Injury Act, the system would utilize a no-fault, state-driven approach modeled after the legal precedent of the workers compensation system to better align all of the interests of Florida’s citizens, lower healthcare costs by reducing the incidence of unnecessary procedures ordered by healthcare providers seeking to protect themselves from potential lawsuits and improve the quality of healthcare by establishing a system that realigns incentives toward patient safety and a reduction in medical errors. This would also have the beneficial effect of reducing medical malpractice insurance costs.

 

Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Jimmy Patronis have filed and introduced the Compensation for Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Arising Out of Medical Injury Act. It has been referred to the Civil Justice, Health & Human Services, Appropriations and Judiciary Committees. SB 1588/HB 1233 is expected to be voted upon during the 2012 legislative session.