People on both sides of a medical malpractice lawsuit can likely agree that the system needs to change. For patients in upstate New York, they probably want to simplify the process of filing claims, gathering evidence and waiting years before their claims are heard. If their claims are going to settle, they likely want them to do so long before the typical two to three years before physicians, hospitals and insurers are ready to offer a settlement.
Physicians and medical malpractice insurers, however, probably want changes that would increase the barrier to filing malpractice claims and a stronger set of rules that would remove any malpractice claim that does not meet the statutory definition of negligent medical care.
Physicians have claimed that fear of medical malpractice lawsuits have forced many people within the medical profession into practicing defensive medicine. The American Medical Association has said that approximately $200 million is spent on defensive medicine each year. While it is easy to say that a procedure, a test or a medication is unnecessary in hindsight, when many doctors are treating patients, it may be an important part of eliminating what is wrong with a patient. In this sense, the medicine is not defensive, but a part of common practice.
Moving forward, it is difficult to tell how the medical malpractice system may change in New York. Whether the aim is to lower costs to physicians and their insurers or it is to make compensation more readily available to medical malpractice victims, the current state of medical malpractice has led to calls for large-scale reforms. Hopefully, these changes will not negatively affect New York patients.
Source: Forbes, "Medical Malpractice: Broken Beyond Repair?" Robert Glatter, Feb. 6, 2013
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