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Harold Christian
Harold Christian
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Health Care Lobby Contests Ability of Jurors to Make Decisions in Medical Malpractice Cases

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Even though jurors sit everyday and make decisions on criminal cases on the guilt and innocence of people, deciding who will go to jail and who will remain free, and even make decisions on who will receive a death penalty or be permitted to live, medical malpractice insurance companies do not believe that these same jurors are competent to receive testimony and evidence of medical malpractice trials and make decisions about whether or not medical malpractice has been committed. Oddly enough, they consider these jurors competent to receive complex testimony in criminal cases, but not competent enough to receive testimony and evidence in medical malpractice cases and make a fair decision. These lobbyists are attempting to take away the rights of those who are harmed, injured and suffer wrongful death due to medical malpractice, by taking away their right to a trial by a jury of their peers.

A Scranton Pennsylvania newspaper has published on their electronic edition reports that medical and insurance lobbies are pushing a proposal that would move decision making in medical malpractice cases from courts and juries to specialized “health courts”. These same lobbyists have pushed for years to take away the rights of those who have suffered debilitating injuries and wrongful death at the hands of the negligence of hospitals and physicians by placing artificial limitations known as “caps” and other restrictions, that are making it virtually impossible for injured victims to have justice and bring about accountability in these settings.

There is presently legislation pending before congress to set up pilot programs in ten states which would divert all medical malpractice cases to special courts. These health courts, of course, grant special privileges to health care providers that the rest of us do not enjoy. These cases would allow doctors and hospitals to be judged by “medical experts” and other medical professionals, thereby stacking the deck against injured patients. Statistically physicians already win 3 out of every 4 court cases that appear before a jury of our peers. However, this is not sufficient, and these lobbyists are pushing for greater restrictions. In cases where a patient has been injured or killed by a medical error, the case would first have to be heard by a panel of “medical experts” chosen by the hospital in which the alleged malpractice occurred. If the patient, or their family, for wrongful death claims, are unsatisfied with the result, they can take their case to a special court where it will be heard by a “medical exert” judge.

This arrangement presumes that jurors or judges are not smart enough or experienced enough to understand medical malpractice cases and cannot be trusted to award fair and appropriate sums of money. Such components are also recommending certain preset amounts depending upon the injury. Unfortunately, this fails to take into consideration the specific facts and aspects of each case.

Physicians and hospitals already enjoy special privileges in that virtually every state, has a special peer review privilege statute. What this means is that when an error is recognized within the profession the information involved in the investigation is privileged and confidential and not available to the public. These rules exist under the ruse that allows a more full exploration since information may not be fully disclosed if it was going to be made public. I believe that this simply means that the public does not get good information about bad conduct and medical errors and is left in the dark.

The Christian and Davis Law Firm does not believe in frivolous lawsuits. However, we do believe in accountability, and believe that accountability and responsibility are cornerstones of our American way of life. Accountability and responsibility requires that victims be allowed to come to a level playing field where they can address a jury of their peers and receive fair and just results for grievance and serious personal injury and wrongful death which is due to the fault of others.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care.