Should there be specialty courts for medical malpractice litigation?

Chodos, Joel

Medical malpractice suits consume time, money and energy. They strike fears of nightmarishly lengthy, complex litigation in the minds of health care providers. Ill or injured patients filing such suits feel wronged, unsure of what really happened and desperately seek justice and compensation. The current tort system with jury trials, in place in America for over 200 years, is cumbersome, slow, and yields often unpredictable results. Establishing working judicial standards of what constitutes malpractice in specific clinical situations is difficult in the existing system. Specialty health care courts have been proposed as an alternative. In this paper, I look at the scope of the current problem in terms of numbers of suits, costs – both economic and non-economic – and the reality of the current system versus what it is supposed to do. Who currently benefits and which injured parties are left behind are discussed, as are jury limitations. Other examples of specialty courts, such as Delaware’s Court of Chancery for business and the Workman’s Compensation system, will be discussed as precedents for an analogous system for health care. This lays the foundation for a rationale for healthcare specialty courts and a discussion of some proposed systems. Advantages and disadvantages of health care courts are reviewed.

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Also Published In

Columbia Medical Review

More About This Work

Academic Units
College of Physicians and Surgeons
Columbia University
Published Here
August 25, 2015