Hospitals Agree to Court Alternative

Side Note: this article from the Wall Street Journal details a new pilot program in New York aimed at stabilizing that state’s volatile malpractice climate.  The program is funded by a $3 million grant, a part of Obama’s health care reform package.  The central feature of the pilot program is mediation of malpractice cases by a judge, also called judge-directed negotiations.  This is a promising idea, as we noted in a previous post, and early results seem to show that the process is significantly cutting malpractice payouts where it is in use.  This is an encouraging trend, but broad reforms need to be passed in states around the country, so that premiums remain stable and Americans’ access to healthcare is not compromised.

by Suzanne Sataline
Wall Street Journal

To cut medical-malpractice costs, five New York City hospitals have agreed to a pilot program to divulge medical mistakes early, offer settlements quickly and use special state “health courts,” where judges will help negotiate agreements before cases go to trial.

The program, funded for three years with $3 million from the federal government, aims to cut the $1.4 billion spent annually in New York State on medical-malpractice premiums, hospital and state officials say. It is one of several programs being funded by the federal government to encourage hospitals to acknowledge and reduce medical errors.

read the rest of the article

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