Bill trims rights, not costs

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Augustans deserve the truth on the “Patient Injury Act.”

In an opinion column headlined “Reduce health-care costs by replacing broken malpractice system,” (Augusta Chronicle, Dec. 8), Dr. Henry Goodwin writes about a proposal currently before the Georgia General Assembly that would take away Georgia citizens’ constitutional right to trial by jury when they have been harmed through the negligence of their health-care provider.

This proposal, he insists, will reduce health-care costs and increase access to justice for all Georgians.

However, if you think this sounds too good to be true, then you would be correct.

This proposal, known as the “Patient Injury Act,” would strip Georgia’s medical malpractice victims of the constitutional right to seek justice in the courtroom before a jury of fellow citizens, and replace our time-tested civil justice system with a burdensome, taxpayer-funded government bureaucracy.

In slamming the courthouse door on Georgia’s justice-seeking citizens, the bill runs afoul of our most sacred founding document – the Constitution.

As an attorney who has spent over three decades in the courtroom advocating on behalf of, and seeking justice for, victims of medical malpractice, I am confident our Supreme Court would rule the patient compensation scheme is an unconstitutional violation of our inviolate right to trial by jury.

To objective observers, it is equally clear that creating a new government-run bureaucracy will not be effective in holding substandard health-care providers accountable for the harm they do to Georgia patients.

Contrary to the claims of proponents of SB 141, this legislation would not have a deterrent effect on healthcare costs in our state. Instead, this bill will only serve to misappropriate taxpayer dollars in order to shield dangerous health-care providers from answering for their harmful practices.

And how would they pay for the additional costs of this new layer of government? By taxing doctors, dentists, nurses and hospitals to the tune of $29.5 million each and every year.

For the victims of medical malpractice and their families whom I have had the honor of representing, the courtroom is often the only opportunity they have to seek justice and compensation for the harm done to them.

Replacing our constitutionally guaranteed jury system with a big-government solution that creates yet another tax on our health-care providers and places victims at the mercy of bureaucrats is the height of irresponsible governance.

Georgians certainly deserve better.

Sam G. Nicholson

Augusta

Comments (33) Add comment
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deestafford
28718
Points
deestafford 12/17/13 - 12:47 am
9
2
It would not be so bad if the only jury awarded...

It would not be so bad if the only jury awarded fees were to make the individual(s) whole; however, it really is unfair when the awards go toward punishing the doctor well beyond the damage done. It preys on the emotions of the members of the jury rather than whether or not the doctor acted according to accepted medical practices. If you remember being an ambulance chaser is how VP candidate Edwards made his millions by appealing to emotion rather than logic.

The doors of justice should swing both ways in malpractice suits... fairness for both the injured party and the medical person. If the lawyers for the plaintiff are seeking justice, why do they nearly always challenge out of the jury pool people with medical background and training?

I see nothing wrong, nor is it unconstitutional, for a board to determine whether or not a medical person acted accorded to standard medical practices in some action rather than an ambulance chaser getting "pounds of flesh" above and beyond what is necessary to make a person fairly compensated for an injury.

Oh, by the way, does not the lawyer get around one-third or so of the award? Would not the implementation of the proposed procedure cut into these "fees".

Another thing that would help our litigious legal system is the implementation of loser pays. When someone believes they would have to pay legal fees if they lose their case it would stop most, if not all, of these frivolous law suits.

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 12/17/13 - 03:29 am
4
8
Make malpractice a criminal
Unpublished

Make malpractice a criminal offense, after all, it IS MALpractice.

carcraft
27035
Points
carcraft 12/17/13 - 06:43 am
9
3
Having been involved in and

Having been involved in and named in a malpractice suit I can tell this has little to do with making a client "whole " it is about how much lawyers stuff in THEIR pockets! Look at John Edwards, multi millionaire lying jerk. He didn't make money helping families, he played to the emotions of the jury! The settlement for my case? Sued for $1 million, settled for $25,000.00. How much do you think the plaintiff saw?

carcraft
27035
Points
carcraft 12/17/13 - 06:48 am
6
2
I would like to see a patient

I would like to see a patient compensation program and if suit is filed the losing party pays court costs for both sides so an innocent defendant is also made whole and not left with the costs of the defense!

KSL
134555
Points
KSL 12/17/13 - 07:08 am
8
3
So, GaCop

You are the rare individual who has never made a mistake?

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 12/17/13 - 08:48 am
5
3
GAC is perfect.....just ask
Unpublished

GAC is perfect.....just ask him.....if he doesn't ignore you. (as he often does when you ask him to back up statemetns with facts.)

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 12/17/13 - 08:49 am
4
3
Make malnutrition a criminal
Unpublished

Make malnutrition a criminal offense....after all it IS MALnutrition.

Same "logic."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:01 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:10 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:10 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:10 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:11 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:11 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:11 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:11 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:11 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:11 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:14 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:14 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:14 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:14 am
2
1
Loser pays court costs might
Unpublished

Loser pays court costs might be reasonable, but a loser pays when a hospital, possible owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, brings in a crew of a dozen $200 dollar an hour lawyers, plus "experts", plus extensive video presentation, etc., would be too intimidating for anyone to bring a suit knowing the risk of losing could bankrupt you. Fees of a few hundred dollars would be fine. Limits on the contingency fee would be a better option. How about a law shielding us from lawsuits if we drive a car? Sure I was going 110, but you can't sue me, we have to go before a board. Of course, it would be made up of people who are going to be 100% in bed with the defense like they plan to set up under this new bill. The better way would be for doctors to police themselves and get rid of the bad apples that commit most of the errors. It's an old study but:"A 1990 study by the National Practitioner Data Bank found that just 5.1 percent of doctors account for more than half of all medical malpractice payouts. Of the 35,000 doctors who had two or more malpractice payouts, only 7.6 percent of them were disciplined. More strikingly, only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have ever been disciplined."

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 12/17/13 - 09:16 am
2
1
Good Lord, I hate satellite
Unpublished

Good Lord, I hate satellite internet.

Little Lamb
46973
Points
Little Lamb 12/17/13 - 09:37 am
3
1
Trust

You just have to trust that it will happen when you hit the "Save Comment" button, Bod.

:-)

nocnoc
45018
Points
nocnoc 12/17/13 - 09:51 am
5
1
Agree in some ways and disagree in others

NOTE:
Lawyers are the BIGGEST opposition to Laws that would Cap
Mal-Practice awards. When person making 28K years sues for
$4Million and wins the Lawyer gets 33% to 50% of the award.

Why not Cap Lawyer Fees' at 10% to 25% depending on LOE (Level of Effort) and develop a formula that awards damages based on the injury and not visually induced sympathy.

Have the Jury only vote For or Against the award.

An have a Judge follow the formula in handling out the award.

I say this having have my share of Doctor mistakes corrected without a lawyer, or the threat of a lawsuit.

Also there needs to be a differentiation between Errors and Omissions and Malpractice in awards.

RMSHEFF
16665
Points
RMSHEFF 12/17/13 - 09:59 am
3
1
BOD...there is hope....you

BOD...there is hope....you acknowledged that the "Lord is Good" in your last post !

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 12/17/13 - 10:00 am
2
2
Click once...and have
Unpublished

Click once...and have faith.....or reload on another tab to check that it posted.....and I too hate satellite internet.

deestafford
28718
Points
deestafford 12/17/13 - 10:09 am
5
2
Two points...

Two points. I think the small percentage of doctors being sued for malpractice is because certain specialties/fields such as brain surgeons are the most sued.

The other point is Texas has placed a cap on malpractice awards and it has to increase the state licencing office staffing because there are so many doctors moving there so they can do what they have always wanted to do...practice medicine and make people well. Just think how much better the country would be if all states had the common sense as Texas does.

deestafford
28718
Points
deestafford 12/17/13 - 10:12 am
5
2
Bod, those multiple posts...

Bod, those multiple posts were not your fault and were beyond your control. Should you be sued for malpractice because you had no control over that just as a doctor could be sued over something he had no control over caused a problem? You followed all procedures and yet you failed. A doctor follows all procedures and he failed. Neither of you should be punished or held responsible.

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 12/17/13 - 10:36 am
6
1
Bad Outcome

Unfortunately, the VAST majority of malpractice law suites are the result of a bad outcome and not as the result of bad practice. Everyone cannot get a good outcome every time. But everyone seems to expect it. By allowing a dispassionate examination of a situation by legal and medical experts instead of depending on the emotional response of people who understand neither, the truth will be found much more often. The huge sums that our badly broken system sucks out of our healthcare budget could then be redirected to something far more deserving than some ambulance chasing lawyers pocket.

RMSHEFF
16665
Points
RMSHEFF 12/17/13 - 10:47 am
5
1
Nocnoc

Why not Cap Lawyer Fees' at 10% to 25% . This alone would stop most of the marginal lawsuits. Lawyers, like everyone else, like "easy money". They should only be allowed to charge a reasonable fee for service based on hours spent. I know for a fact the lawsuit abuse that surrounds nursing homes. There are lawyers that make their living exclusively filing suit in this area. Every negative medical outcome is grounds for a lawsuit because they know the nursing facility will not allow litigation to proceed based solely on cost. They will settle all cases as long as the settlement is less than $20,000. They spend 2 hours filing suit and receive 40% of the $ 20,000 recovered with no extra effort. The attorneys know how much the facility would have to spend to defend itself even if it prevails and they will settle for a little less than this cost. Not to mention the damage to the facilities image if there is a court fight. This has become a "racket" no different than theft. Maybe this is why these trial lawyers are viewed lower than used car salesmen and politicians when it come to honesty and integrity.

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