Health Courts Could Address Medical Malpractice Mess

Special health courts could be the answer to our medical malpractice mess writes Mark Crane, a former USA TODAY editorial writer. Ordinary citizens aren’t usually asked to decide complex legal disputes about tax law, bankruptcy, maritime cases, etc. for good reason. Crane writes:

While the principle of trial by jury is sacrosanct in America, basic fairness and common sense demand that such highly technical issues require expertise from witnesses and judges experienced in dealing with them.

Jurors hear testimony from dueling expert witnesses-hired guns who favor one party’s interpretation of events. The most personable witness may sway a jury no matter how fanciful his theories are. Jurors receive little guidance from judges as to how to evaluate that testimony or how much to compensate deserving plaintiffs.

The medical liability system is a mess, a highly inefficient and arbitrary arena where too much compensation is awarded to some injured patients and little or none to others. Deserving patients wait years to get compensated.

Crane says health courts may be the answer. “In New Zealand, Sweden, and Denmark, claims resolution takes six to nine months. The average time in the United States is five years.”