Just What the Doctor Ordered for the Ongoing Medical Liability Crisis


By:  Taryn Kadar
The medical liability crisis has continued to have a significant effect on the medical system. The American College of Physicians (“ACP”) newly released policy paper, “Medical Liability Reform –  Innovative Solutions for a New Health Care System” helps outline the ever-changing medical landscape and the scope of potential medical liability reform.
The paper offers a number of recommendations to reform the current state of medical liability as the existing health care system allows for too many preventable injuries and for the constant fear of liability to undermine the patient-physician relationship. The ACP identified the following nine recommendations as a solution to the broken medical liability system in the United States:

  • Continued focus on patient safety and prevention of medical errors;
  • Passage of a comprehensive tort reform package, including caps on non-economic damages;
  • Minimum standards and qualification for expert witnesses;
  • Oversight of medical liability insurers;
  • Testing, and if warranted, expansion of communication and disclosure programs;
  • Pilot-testing a variety of alternative dispute resolution models;
  • Developing effective safe harbor protections that improve quality of care, increase efficiency, and reduce costs;
  • Expanded testing of health courts and administrative compensation systems;
  • Research into the effect of team-based care on medical liability, as well as testing of enterprise liability and other products that protect and encourage team-based care.

The ultimate, ideal solution is one that includes a multifaceted approach, allowing for innovation, pilot-testing, and further research. Although medical liability reform currently has little chance of passing at a federal level, states have taken action to approve laws that focus on some of the proposed solutions above. It is imperative that all stakeholders work together to fix the nation’s medical liability system for the sake of patients and providers alike.