In a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (March 31, 2010), the authors recognize that traditional methods of malpractice reform, such as state caps on non-economic damages, may not be working. As noted in the article, this past February the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the state’s cap was unconstitutional.
There are three distinct types of “disclosure and offer” programs. To discourage lawsuits, each of these programs encourage candid disclosure about medical injuries, apologies when appropriate and providing for the patient’s financial needs, in at least a limited way.
Early resolution of malpractice claims is a laudable goal. Some of these programs, however, require the patient to give up his right to sue. This compromises the rights of an injured victim at his most vulnerable moment.
Malpractice reform should focus on improving healthcare. It should also focus on disciplining the “repeat offenders” who are responsible for much of the problem.