Bill Changes Malpractice Cases; Senate Proposal Would Put Ga. Claims before a Panel of Physicians

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Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA | Medical malpractice in Georgia would be handled more like worker's compensation under legislation introduced Friday in the Senate.

Senate Bill 141 by Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, would create a system in which patients take complaints of doctor or hospital mistakes to a panel of physicians for hearings rather than filing lawsuits in court. If the panel concludes compensation is warranted, it pays out of a fund all providers pay into, like the no-fault system that covers on-the-job injuries.

The change aims to simplify the system and reduce liability-insurance premiums for health-care providers and eventually hold down health-insurance costs for employers once physicians stop ordering unneeded tests as part of their "defensive medicine."

Supporters say it would also get compensation for errors that are too small for lawyers in today's system to take on the expense of a lawsuit. In medical malpractice suits, lawyers seldom take cases that don't have large potential payouts. …


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