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Health courts would be better way to resolve medical errors

August 28, 2018 GMT

Whether an error results from a surgical procedure as described in “$12M Danbury Hospital verdict upheld” (Page 1, Aug. 17) or a medical one, such as treating a heart attack, the anger and frustration felt by both patients and their families is great.

Although hospitals take every precaution to eliminate complications and errors as much as possible, they can still occur.

This is not to downplay the harm a patient may have suffered or to diminish one bit the need for hospitals and doctors to strive to eliminate errors.

However, it seems that better ways than those that exist are needed to settle medical liability cases.


The court costs of litigation and the amounts paid for pain and suffering can run into millions of dollars. The public is not aware of how much of the total award in a liability suit is made up of court costs, attorneys’ fees, and the amounts paid for pain and suffering. The amounts paid out for pain and suffering alone can run into millions of dollars — way beyond the compensation for the error itself.

Often it takes years before a patient receives compensation.

And, litigation is lengthy and psychologically excruciating for all concerned.

One way that has been discussed which can reduce these deficiencies of the current system is health courts. They operate similar to workers compensation.

In health courts, all parties agree to work things out in as amicable a way as possible. Litigation time and costs are greatly reduced and compensation to injured parties is quicker.

It seems that any method of settling medical liability that compensates patients fairly and reasonably and at the same time reduces hostilities for all concerned should be at the top of our lawmakers’ list of priorities.

Edward Volpintesta MD