Georgia’s senate is considering a bill nicknamed the “Patient Compensation Act” that could radically change the way the state handles medical malpractice lawsuits. The Patient Compensation Act was designed to provide a new way to process claims for victims of medical malpractice. In short, the Act would eliminate the need for litigating claims through the creation of the “Patient Compensation System”.
Through the Patient Compensation System, victims of medical malpractice seeking a financial recovery would fill out an application for an investigation into their claims. The “Patient Compensation Board” would then be responsible for reviewing the application and disbursing a monetary award they feel is appropriate as compensation. The Board would consist of physicians (a portion of which would be ‘patient advocates’), attorneys, and accountants.
The compensation fund set up to pay patients would come from a variety of sources including physicians themselves, who would be forced to contribute regularly. The amount of compensation that a patient could potentially receive would have a ceiling limit in place.
Supporters of the Patient Compensation Act claim the state of Georgia would benefit from a system designed to incentivize doctors to practice in the state rather than scare them away with liability claims and pricey insurance policies. Supporters also argue that the without the fear of lawsuits, doctors would become less likely to prescribe wasteful and unnecessary tests in order to protect themselves from liability, in turn potentially cutting healthcare costs.
Opponents, on the other hand, claim that banning the right of a trial by jury for victims of medical malpractice is unconstitutional. Further, they claim capping the amount of compensation they can receive for their injuries is unfair, as the medical costs and life care expenses a patient affected by medical malpractice faces may amount to more than the capped amount allotted to them. Additionally, opponents attack the bill for depriving patients of a fair and legitimate accountability system that holds providers responsible for any devastating and avoidable medical mistake they make.
To read the Bill itself, visit the Georgia General Assembly’s website here. To read more about medical malpractice lawsuits, visit our Medical Malpractice FAQ page. The Med Mal Blog is brought to you by Weiss & Paarz, New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys for over 30 years.