July 11, 2007 — The American Medical Association (AMA) yesterday adopted new principles for health courts, special medical courts composed of judges trained in medical standards that could render more accurate decisions on whether or not medical malpractice has actually occurred.
"In some states and medical specialties, sky-high medical liability premiums continue to threaten patient access to medical care," said William A. Hazel, M.D., AMA board member. "While we support medical liability reforms patterned after the successful California law that includes a quarter-million- dollar cap on non-economic damages, other proposals should be explored by states as well. Health courts are a promising reform proposal that merits more investigation."
Working for 30 years, California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA) has kept California's medical liability premiums in check, while they have increased sharply in other parts of the country without reforms. Nearly 30 states have enacted caps with varying limits and exceptions, but such reforms remain elusive in other states and at the federal level.
"Health courts are one of the promising alternatives that deserve further study as we work to fix the broken medical liability system," Dr. Hazel said. "The new AMA health court principles should assist state and local governments, insurers, hospitals and other entities interested in exploring this option for medical liability reform."
For more information: www.ama-assn.org