NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Alternative Solutions to Florida's Medical Malpractice System

December 27, 2011

For many years the cost of health care in the United States has been rising faster than the rate of inflation.  This trend affects families, employers and governments at all levels.  The rising cost of care -- and of the insurance to pay for ­­­it ­­-- is a major drag on a struggling economy.  Unfortunately, additional factors are further inflating health care cost.  The pending phase-in of various provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will further accelerate healthcare inflation.  Therefore, any steps states can take to rein in costs while protecting the interests of patients and practitioners should be explored, says Beth Ann Fiedler of the James Madison Institute.

Medical malpractice is strongly associated with the rising cost of health care.  States have repeatedly attempted various remedies to address problems related to medical malpractice and defensive medicine -- particularly when confronted by crises in which malpractice insurance was said to be in danger of becoming unavailable or unaffordable.  The challenge now is to act before another crisis arises.

There are alternatives that better serve the interests of aggrieved patients than a tort system utilizing civil courts that are currently burdened by a high volume of other matters, including property foreclosures.  These alternatives could conceivably take less time than the courts to reach a decision and could ultimately direct a greater share of any financial settlement to the aggrieved patient and less to court costs, attorney fees and other litigation expenses.

Some key recommendations include:

  • Taking steps to create an effective and equitable solution to medical malpractice reform through an administratively based "patients compensation system."
  • Building standards of care to guide practitioners, as well as those charged with the responsibility of adjudicating claims of medical malpractice.

Source: Beth Ann Fiedler, "Alternative Solutions to Florida's Medical Malpractice System," James Madison Institute, November 2011.

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