October 25, 2007

Case Western Reserve University law professors say "health courts" offer big financial burdens and loss of patient rights

Ill-conceived, bureaucratic proposal is "bad public policy," they say

Maxwell Mehlman and Dale Nance

A groundbreaking new report, prepared by Case Western Reserve University professors Maxwell Mehlman and Dale Nance, criticizes recent proposals for the creation of special "health courts" for the adjudication of medical malpractice claims.

According to Mehlman and Nance, proposals to create such health courts are the latest in a series of attempts to eliminate or drastically reduce the rights of injured patients. The proposals are based on unfounded claims that the existing medical malpractice litigation system is broken and spinning out of control, when in fact that system is quite stable and works remarkably well.

The new report, "Medical Injustice: The Case Against Health Courts," prepared under a grant from the American Association for Justice Robert L. Habush Endowment, finds that health courts would require the creation of new and costly bureaucracies that would be biased against patients at every level.

In the report, Mehlman, the Arthur E. Petersilge Professor of Law and director of the Law-Medicine Center at the School of Law and professor of bioethics at the School of Medicine, and Nance, professor of law, find many critical flaws in the health courts concept, including:

  • Injured patients would be forced into the new health court bureaucracies.
  • Many valid claims would be arbitrarily limited or barred altogether.
  • Patients who did recover would be severely under-compensated.
  • Wrongdoers would not be held accountable, and the deterrent effect of the civil justice system would be reduced.
  • Health courts, even if they worked as proponents suggest, would not be affordable without substantial increases in doctors' malpractice premiums or shifts of costs onto taxpayers and the employers and employees who pay for health care insurance.

The authors conclude that the health courts concept is misguided and encourage proponents to abandon it as "bad public policy."

Read the full Executive Summary.

For more information contact Laura M. Massie, 216.368.4442.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, October 25, 2007 09:41 AM | News Topics: Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Healthcare, Provost Initiatives, Public Policy/Politics, Research, School of Law

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.