Reforming Malpractice, Promoting Safety

The medical malpractice system in the United States is broken.  Only one of every hundred patients injured by negligence receives compensation.  At the same time, many malpractice suits brought against doctors don’t actually involve any negligence at all.  Rather than deterring malpractice, the current system actually promotes it by causing doctors and hospitals to hide their mistakes for fear of being sued.  Clearly, this culture of worried secrecy undermines patient safety.  How can health care providers learn from a mistake they never heard about?  The National Physicians Alliance believes that everyone’s interests will be better served by embracing dramatic reform to the existing system.  One among several interesting proposals under consideration involves the creation of medical injury compensation funds.  Doctors who contribute to a fund would no longer be vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits, while patients who have been injured during their medical care would be compensated from this fund based on the severity of their injury.  Local patient safety councils will investigate how the injury took place and what changes could be made in the system of care to prevent future injuries from occurring.  This is only one possible approach to the problem, but it illustrates the scope of the reform that will be necessary to bring doctors and patients together in solving this crisis.  The NPA aims to  develop a new system that will improve safety, increase efficiency, promote fairness, discourage frivolous suits, compensate a greater percentage of injured patients, and do it all for less money than we currently spend in acrimonious battle.

Click here to read and download the NPA’s issue brief on Safety-Focused Malpractice Reform.