NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Would Medical Courts Cure Sick Area of the Law

July 17, 2003

Studies show that in lawsuits involving medical questions, most verdicts against defendants -- as many as 80 percent of them -- are unfair and unjustified by scientific evidence, claims Betsy McCaughery of the Hudson Institute. To insure fairer verdicts, she says Congress should establish medical courts where the verdicts will be made by judges or special masters trained to evaluate scientific evidence, rather than ordinary juries.

She argues:

  • Medical court would not violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of a jury trial, but instead, would be a first step, with the right to a later jury trial preserved.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized Congress' authority to create civil courts without juries for certain types of cases -- there's already traffic court, family court, vaccine court, tax court and more.
  • Cases decided by judges without a jury take 50 percent less time, which means faster and less-expensive justice for the truly deserving.
  • England, Japan, Germany, France and many other countries have eliminated juries in medical malpractice cases.

Capping noneconomic damages will help control the cost of malpractice insurance, but it won't save doctors or patients from an unfair system. Medical court would, explains McCaughey.

Source: Betsy McCaughey, "Medical Courts Would Heal Infirmities of Legal System," Investor's Business Daily, July 17, 2003.

 

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