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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
The Need for Tort Reform as Part of Health Care Reform
There is no doubt about the need for tort reform. The current state of the legal system imposes great costs on the U.S. health care system and society in general−an astounding $865 billion each year. Physicians are forced to practice defensive medicine to protect themselves from litigation. Caps on non-economic damages have helped reduce malpractice insurance rates and encouraged young physicians to pursue specialties such as obstetrics. Collective insurance pools and national insurance programs for physicians and hospitals are some options that other countries employ to reduce malpractice rates. Regulation of expert testimony by medical societies would curb false or biased testimony. Other recommendations to improve the tort system include establishing expert health courts similar to those that currently exist for tax and patent law, using mediation, creating patient compensation funds, making acknowledgment of errors inadmissible in court, providing certificates of merit or pretrial screening panels to confirm the validity of lawsuits, and developing treatment contracts. Clearly some action must be taken to amend our current wasteful tort system.
KEY WORDS: defensive medicine, caps on non-economic damages, expert witness testimony, expert health courts, mediation, certificate of merit
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