Medical malpractice: Former HCA chief proposes alternative to current system

A retired former president of the Hospital Corporation of America is advocating for a no-fault medical malpractice system in Georgia that is also being debated in other states.

Charles R. Evans outlined the proposal in an opinion piece for the Gwinnett (Ga.) Daily Post. Instead of the current medical malpractice system, patients seeking compensation would instead bring their grievance to a panel of healthcare experts and an administrative law judge. As a result, he wrote, "the patient would be quickly compensated, which is unlike our current legal system that takes years and compensates very few injured patients." Moreover, such a system "would eliminate the adversarial relationship between patient and doctor and allow physicians to acknowledge their errors without fear of litigation."

Evans also observed that "after 40 years as a hospital administrator, I can say that one of the primary drivers of rising costs can be linked to a doctor's pen."

The United States has an adversarial litigation system. Other countries have different ways to resolve such issues. Denmark, for example, has a national system that not only compensates patients who suffer from medical errors, but allows hospitals to share data in order to avoid future errors. Such a system has been proposed in limited areas in the U.S. as a way to save money.

Many victims of medical malpractice in the U.S. also fail to get a complete picture of the harm that has befallen them due to a culture of secrecy and opacity at the nation's hospitals.

Evans said that the proposed new system, called the Patients Compensation System, is currently being mulled by the state Senate. A similar bill is likely to be introduced into the Georgia House. Similar models are being considered in other states, according to Evans, including Florida, Tennessee, Maine and Montana.

To learn more:
- read the opinion piece