Recent Essay Makes the Case for Health Courts

In a recent essay for the Stamford Advocate, Dr. Edward Volpintesta of Connecticut makes the case for health courts:

[H]ealth courts presided over by judges with special training in malpractice have great potential to lessen the adversarial instincts that characterize the medical liability system.

Health courts can 1) eliminate the adversarial attitude that has poisoned the current system, 2) settle cases fairly in weeks or months not the three or four years that they take now, 3) cut down on the legal wrangling that often goes on as cases wind their way through the system, 4) limit the incentives that lawyers have to make the suits as expensive as possible in order to increase their fees, 5) control unfair multimillion dollar verdicts, 6) reduce the court costs, and 7) reduce the hostilities between injured parties and physicians. …

Health courts are an idea whose time has come. The benefits for the public good are immense. It would be senseless and unreasonable if all parties concerned did not give it their wholehearted support.

He relates that the Connecticut State Medical Society recently decided to advocate for legislation that would establish health courts.

The health court concept was developed by Common Good in conjunction with the Harvard School of Public Health and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is the only reform proposal that can bring reliability to medical justice, the absence of which causes doctors to engage in the costly practice of defensive medicine. Health courts have been endorsed by medical societies, patient safety advocates, editorial boards, leading government officials—including President Obama—and the American public.

Read Dr. Volpintesta’s full essay here. Read Common Good Chair Philip K. Howard’s 2009 essay for the New York Times, “Just Medicine,” here.