Returning from the 4th of July holiday, we got an update on the Senate's recent hearings on special health courts. Here's the word from Common Good:
On June 22, 2006, the U.S. Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions) held a hearing to consider bipartisan legislation that would create health court pilot projects. The bill
(S.1337) – the Fair and Reliable Medical Justice Act - has been introduced by Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Max Baucus (D-MT).
If passed, the bill would encourage states to experiment with alternatives to current medical injury litigation - including the creation of health
courts. Among those testifying at the hearing were Harvard School of Public Health Professor David Studdert, Columbia Law School Professor Bill Sage, and Common Good Founder/Chair Philip K. Howard.
According to Studdert the current system does a reasonable job at directing compensation to the right people, but it fails in four critical areas: inefficiency, poor compensation to patients, encouraging defensive medicine, and impeding quality improvement. Studdert suggested health court pilots to find a new and better approach.
Sage, the lead investigator on The Project on Medical Liability in Pennsylvania, underscored that the liability system fails to support real improvements in patient safety and the quality of care.
Common Good Chair Philip K. Howard proposed health courts – with trained judges, neutral experts, and scheduled non-economic damages – as the
best way to correct failings in the current system. Coordinated patient safety systems connected with health courts would help to prevent future errors from occurring.
To learn more about health courts, visit www.cgood.org. Click here to access David Studdert’s testimony. Click here to read Bill Sage’s testimony. See Philip Howard’s testimony here.