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JimVanMeerten (56.18)

Medical tort reform



September 28, 2009 – Comments (0)

Every week doctors and lawyers across the nation get in arguments over medical tort reform. Whenever the doctors ask the lawyers what they do about their mistakes the lawyers always come back: "Lawyers appeal their mistakes, doctors bury theirs". Not a good way to promote civil discourse!

Doctors claim that one of the largest components of unnecessary medical costs are the defensive and redundant tests and procedures they are being forced to order to combat the legal suits filed by greedy personal injury ambulance chasers. Something they forget is the reason that any award is made against them comes from the courts and juries finding the doctor was negligent and at fault after a fair hearing. Most complaints never make it to court because the insurance carriers settle the claims and have a confidentiality agreement signed by all parties.

I propose the medical profession should catch up with some of the other professions and promote binding and public arbitration through the local State Medical Review Boards. It would be quicker and less expensive. Financial Advisers and Lawyers have done that for years. My monthly Georgia State Bar Journal has pages of sanctions and disbarment. Every month the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) publishes all the financial representative registrations they've pulled and the awards they've made in the Wall Street Journal. Here's my proposal:

Have all doctors, hospitals, clinics and patients agree that they will enter into binding arbitration sanctioned by their State Medical Review Board. Financial Advisors and Registered Representative have binding arbitration agreements right into their account opening paperwork.

Have a panel of practicing or retired doctors, medical teaching professionals and appointees from the public hear each complaint. They could immediately determine if the doctor was negligent or not following normally accepted medical procedures, make an award if the findings warrant it and most importantly have the bite to cancel the medical certificates of doctors they feel are dangerous to the public.

Right now the public feels the medical profession and the insurance companies protect their own. Too many claims are presently settled without admitting or a finding of guilt and a confidentially clause is part of the negotiations. Lawyers and financial professions have their laundry aired in public, why doesn't the medical profession come clean with their dirty laundry too?

The public has a right to know.

Jim Van Meerten is an investor and writes about financial subjects on Financial Tides, MSN Top Stock Blogs and Seeking Alpha.

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