To the Editor:
In regards to your "Lawsuit Lottery" article of March 24, 2005, I may add that a new policy report from the Progressive Policy Institute and Common Good, is calling for a new network of specialized health courts (similar to those that judge workers' compensation claims) that would help replace America's broken justice system. The report says that today's medical justice system fails to compensate the vast majority of injured patients and does a poor job of preventing medical mistakes.
The current liability system does not give most injured patients access to justice. Only people with serious injuries and the potential for large awards are likely to find a lawyer to take their case because the legal costs involved are so high. Even for those with a serious injury, the malpractice system compensates only one in 14 people.
At the same time, the system fails to promote patient safety. It does not send clear signals about standards of care that would help health care providers avoid medical mistakes, and it discourages frank discussion about failures and near misses.
A system of "Health Courts" would more frequently pay limited compensation awards for injuries that receive nothing today. It is a lot better than allowing tort cap awards for the few, while the majority of real problems are not even addressed.
Common Good has announced that more than 80 of the nation's most prominent leaders in healthcare and law have endorsed the creation of special health courts as a way of restoring reliability to the medical justice system.
Gregory D. Pawelski