Georgia Medical Malpractice Bill Being Considered

Our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers have been following the news about potential changes to Georgia’s medical malpractice laws in Senate Bill 141. The bill, called the Patient Injury Act, would prevent patients from suing doctors and hospitals in Georgia and is being considered by the Georgia Senate now.

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In the place of court lawsuits, the law would create a panel of appointed healthcare experts that would hear cases, determine injuries and award compensation. The amount of compensation would be capped. But this Patients Compensation System would promptly award the determined compensation after the medical panel finds an avoidable harm, which would theoretically reduce the time it takes a patient or their family to receive compensation. The panel would be under the Department of Community Health. This system of compensation would be funded by malpractice insurance premiums that doctors and hospitals pay, and not by tax increases, according to its proponents. This idea is not new, and has been circulating for some time (see a blog from last year here). The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Brandon Beach of Fulton County, says this move will reduce health insurance premiums by 15 to 22 percent.

Some doctors support the bill and this proposed change in the medical malpractice system. They cite the fact that doctors would feel less pressure to order unnecessary tests in order to avoid a costly lawsuit, something doctors call “defensive medicine.” Senator Beach says reducing defensive medicine will save $14 billion.

Consumer advocates are worried that this change could seal malpractice records and make it harder for patient’s to research doctors’ backgrounds. Others dispute Sen. Beach’s claims of cost saving, saying the change could increase costs in the system, and may ultimately be unconstitutional. The constitutional aspect revolves around the right to trial by jury in both the US Constitution and the Constitution of Georgia, which has been part of the civil jury system for these types of cases. And there are accusations that a government-run board would add more bureaucracy and wouldn’t hold negligent medical professionals properly accountable. The Medical Association of Georgia and the State Bar of Georgia are both against this bill. The Medical Association represents 8,000 doctors in the state, and their primary concern is increased costs. Former state Senator Arthur “Skin” Edge, who now works as a lobbyist for a medical malpractice insurance company, noted, “no other state has attempted such a drastic overhaul.”

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Regardless of how the debate goes, if you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a medical professional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our lawyers follow changes in Georgia law that may impact our clients. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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