Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Lawyers and their clients are not the enemy, negligence is

In the United States, Americans are gaining in medical self-knowledge through greater accessibility to medical resources via the Internet. So, this begs the question, does America have a medical malpractice issue, or a medical malpractice lawsuit issue?

While Pennsylvania has the second highest insurer payout numbers for medical malpractice, rather than indicating an increase just in lawsuits, this seems to indicate an increase in actual medical malpractice.

There is an idea being floated out of New York to take ones jury of peers out of the equation and replace them with handpicked "experts" in order to save these insurance companies and hospitals from having to pay out these expenses. They seek to create specialized "health courts" rather than proceed through the normal legal system. Proponents argue that this will create "consistency" in settlements and that hospitals can then start to calculate what their malpractice cases may cost them. Rather than paying out in the six figures for one case and only five figures for another of a similar nature, the hospitals will have a calculated range of cost per case.

What is missing from this assessment is the fundamental realization that not all cases are created equal. Each case, even if similar in nature always has different circumstances, differing patient histories, and usually different personnel, hospitals, and policies involved. While the goal of more information sharing between hospitals and practitioners on the substance of each case and how it affects the practice of those hospitals and individuals is commendable, this can be achieved without altering legal practices that are in place to protect the patients in order to benefit the insurance agencies and hospitals.

If the profession is indeed learning from its mistakes, and if dealt with correctly by those involved, cases of medical malpractice should decrease rather than increase. Instead of blaming the legal system, perhaps the medical profession should address best practice policies and training in light of an increasingly knowledgeable patient base. Lawyers and their clients are not the enemy, negligence is.

Source: "Out of Court: Health Courts Could Cut Costs, But Lawyers Cry Foul," Jon Lentz, Nov. 20, 2012

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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