Workers Compensation Model to Replace Georgia's Medical Malpractice System?


By: Scott Rees
A recent study of 330 Georgia physicians indicated Georgia physicians are overwhelmingly in favor of proposed legislation to make such a change.  Instead of the current legal system in place, the workers compensation model would allow a patient to file a claim for review by a panel.  If the panel found “avoidable harm” had taken place, the claim would then be forwarded to a compensation board to award damages.  Those in favor of the system believe this model would allow for predictable settlements in faster time, patients know their claim would be heard, and doctors could avoid the burden of being brought to court over a frivolous claim.  The study was commissioned by Patients for Fair Compensation, and had an error rate of plus or minus 5.5%.  Patients for Fair Compensation claims to be a nonpartisan Section 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to educating and engaging citizens and policymakers on the negative impact on patient care due to defensive medicine – defined as the practice of ordering medical tests, procedures or consultations of doubtful clinical value in order to protect the prescribing physician from malpractice lawsuits.
A few interesting numbers of note taken from the study:

  • 96% of the surveyed physicians said that this system would reduce healthcare costs;
  • 95% of the surveyed physicians said they would support legislation that would provide for this model;
  • 90% of the surveyed physicians said patient care quality and safety would improve under this model;
  • 82% of the surveyed physicians said they currently practice defensive medicine; and
  • 74% of the surveyed physicians said defensive medicine impacts patient care.

Let me know your thoughts on the study and whether you feel such a change would be good for the state, physicians, and patients.