A controversial bill that has been proposed in the Georgia state legislature would take medical malpractice lawsuits out of the court system in that state, and have them decided by an 11-member “patient injury” board.  The board would be comprised of doctors, lawyers, patient advocates, an accountant, a business executive, and a hospital administrator.  The stated purpose behind the measure is to save money – namely, rising healthcare costs attributed to defensive medicine – and time, as the bill’s sponsors anticipate that justice will work more quickly in the state board program than it does in the courts. 

Criticism of the plan focuses on the potential for the program to actually cost Georgia taxpayers more money, as tax dollars will have to pay for the new bureaucracy; and constitutionality, as both the U.S. and Georgia state constitutions guarantee a trial by jury.  The bill is opposed by the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, a group comprised of attorneys who represent plaintiffs and who aim to protect access to the courts for all citizens of that state. Interestingly, the Medical Association of Georgia, a physician advocacy group, also opposes the bill.  Their feeling is that the board system will actually increase the number of medical malpractice claims filed, in addition to increasing costs.

In Pennsylvania, while steps have been taken to ensure that only meritorious medical malpractice lawsuits are filed, individuals injured due to medical malpractice are still entitled to have their claims adjudicated in courts of law by juries of their peers.  We have experienced trial attorneys at Stark & Stark who specialize in medical malpractice.  If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Stark & Stark for a free consultation.

Michael Ksiazek is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Ksiazek.