SB- 86 Tabled in Senate To Outstrip Medical Malpractice LawsuitsSB- 86 Tabled in Senate To Outstrip Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The Senate Bill 86 (SB-86) titled as ‘Patient Compensation Act’, was once again introduced on February 4, 2015 by Georgia State Sen. Brandon Beach. As per the bill, a patient who is injured can seek a potential remedy via the Patient Compensation Act.  Also, the same patient, with the help of an advocate, can appeal to the system to investigate his or her injury.

Under the proposed Bill, an entirely separate and new panel, rather an Administrative Court will be constituted and presided over by 11 members including physicians, attorneys, accountants and patient’s advocate. See 51-13-4 (b)(1).

Besides taking a far reaching approach, this administrative body will fix the compensation rates  as also the medical review panelists . Related claims will solely be settled by this administrative court keeping it out of the reach of the trial court, thereby eliminating the right of a Georgia resident to bring a cause of action in court against any provider for medical malpractice.

The Bill, with both its pros and cons is being eyed closely by lawyers, health care departments, and hospitals. Few who stand to support the bill are of the opinion that the new setup will actually relieve the victims of malpractice from unnecessary lengthy and costly court procedures and will additionally save the victims from trivial medical tests that is often used by doctors as defensive medicine practice. They are of the opinion that this bill will reduce the efforts to make the medical negligence claim valid. The other side coming directly from the lawyers holds a strong opposition, more importantly, a concern with respect to obsolescence of the “Right to Trial by Jury” guaranteed by the constitution. This indicates the appointment of the 11 person panel whose decision could not be appealed.

Whether the Bill is constitutional or not but experts who have reviewed it, firmly believe that it passes the constitutional muster. The bill would, if passed, transform the current medical tort system into an administrative system for redress.

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