In a recent opinion piece in The Arizona Republic, our contributor wrote:
"Medical liability reform is sure to remain in the news and likely will be on the November ballot.
Specialized health courts should be our future here in Arizona.
The medical liability system ought to allow people who are injured due to substandard care to be compensated. Injured parties ought to receive the benefits of prompt, consistent and reasonable compensation."
The medical liability system ought to deter substandard care. It should not deter care from being delivered.
Physicians should look at the medical literature and, in conjunction with patients, determine the best care. When physicians perform within those standards, they should not be fearful. Medical liability ought not be arbitrary.
The current system certainly does not give injured patients prompt or consistent compensation, and it does not often get it right when it comes to reasonable compensation. The reality is that medicine has many gray areas, leaving physicians always at risk. The current system is arbitrary.
Special health courts have the potential to give Arizonans the medical liability system they deserve.
In special health courts, judges with additional expertise in medical matters would preside. An independent panel of experts would decide if the appropriate standard of care was delivered.
Both sides would be able to provide additional experts. A jury of peers could continue to function. However, the expert panel would decide if the standard of care was met.
Over time, previous decisions and the medical literature would give physicians the tools they need to provide better care more often. Advances in medicine are most often slow, and good ideas in the short run often do not pan out over the long run. Health courts would help establish a baseline of quality medical care that would only improve over time.
Physicians and the citizens of our great state should to bring health courts to Arizona."
Dr. Novack is an orthopedic surgeon and the host of a Sunday afternoon radio program on health care policy and politics on KKNT-AM (960).