NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 21, 2007

A new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) recommends replacing the litigation-based U.S. medical malpractice structure with a no-fault system that automatically compensates patients for unexpected injuries or deaths; a proposal business officials and medical groups in Oklahoma are willing to consider, says the Journal Record.

According to the report's authors:

  • The current system does a poor job of compensating compensate victims of medical negligence and discouraging future errors by providers.
  • Less than 2 percent of patients negligently injured file malpractice suits, with even fewer individuals actually receiving compensation.
  • One third of cases are found not to involve medical error.

To guard against malpractice suits, filed against 1 in every 4 physicians each year, doctors purchase high-premium malpractice insurance.  To replace the existing system the NCPA report recommends one in which liability would be determined by voluntary contract.  These agreements would include:

  • Compensation without fault, with the amount a provider is obligated to pay the patient or patient's family set in advance.
  • Allowing compensation to be reduced for riskier patients or high-risk procedures and requiring providers to disclose information such as mortality rates for surgeries.
  • Basing qualification for full compensation on the patient's compliance with provider directives, including diet restrictions and full disclosure of medications being taken.

Mike Seney, senior vice president of operations for The State Chamber -- Oklahoma's Association of Business and Industry -- said he is aware of the recommendation but hasn't reviewed it comprehensively enough to comment on its specifics.  However, Seney said he is glad to hear that groups are looking into alternatives to the current system.

Source: Marie Price, "New report calls for no-fault malpractice compensation," Journal Record, December 21, 2007.


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