More On an Alternative Florida Med Mal System

Physician's ToolsThe James Madison Institute just released an interesting study entitled, Alternative Solutions to Florida’s
Medical Malpractice System
. The report begins by outlining nothing new: a flawed Florida tort system, physician liability insurance cases that take years to resolve, and awards that are dramatically inconsistent. It describes a system that discourages the reporting of errors and, instead, encourages physicians to cover themselves in case of a potential med mal lawsuit by ordering excessive tests, procedures and specialty consultations.

Interestingly, the Institute suggested creating a “Patients’ Compensation System,” much like that of a Workers’ Compensation system. The new system would completely take the Florida court system out of the Florida med mal landscape. Instead, cases would go to a medical review board, and a patients’ compensation board would make awards. Then –this is the really interesting part –a quality improvement board (of sorts) would review the errors that occurred and then work to establish best practices to prevent those errors from recurring.

I may be a bit cynical, but I am not sure how good of an idea this is –noble as it is. It seems to me that hundreds of different errors will be reviewed –all of them with their unique situations and circumstances. And, even if some of those errors could be grouped to together and appear more often than others, is it always necessary or appropriate to then establish new “best practices?” What if best practices already exist (never mind the discussion about which organization drafted them)? Would new ones need to be drafted? While I appreciate the goal of minimizing and not repeating errors, it seems like it might create some unnecessary or duplicate work –and isn’t the point of this new program to save resources?

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