I recently read an article regarding a change in the handling of malpractice claims of medical professional negligence in Korea. Perhaps our own system here in the United States could benefit from similar changes?
Korea, in 2012, will be instituting a process of alternative dispute resolution, whereby a dual committee approach of mediators (composed of judges and attorneys) will review legal responsibility of a medical liability insurance provider in a case and a committee of medical professionals and national prosecutors will investigate the medical components and potential cause of the deviation from the standard of care. This does not remove the patient’s ability to file a lawsuit, rather acts in a similar but expanded fashion to that of our American arbitration process with the intent of improving/expediting the flow while providing due process with qualified professionals on the legal and medical side.
Many of the articles I read about the cost of the medical malpractice insurance in America centers on the profits of the medical liability insurance carrier and not the cost of the litigation. With the average cost of a filed malpractice claim being around $40-50,000 to the medical malpractice insurance carrier and escalating from there depending on the resources necessary to properly and vigorously defend a policyholder, I think we should watch this Korean model closely and see if similar changes could be made to our own system to assist in lowering the cost of providing malpractice coverage to a physician.
One of our medical malpractice insurance carriers, since inception, has vigorously promoted and provided resources to its policyholders to facilitate the arbitration and mediation process as a mean of dispute resolution to avoid the traditional jury process. Many of its policyholders have elected to offer it as part of their standard operating procedure and we are anxious to see the outcome when tested.