New, Different Approach to Med-Mal in Georgia Needs to Be Tried
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder, Sorry Works!
Sorry Works! Applauds Georgia Plan to Replace Georgia Medical Tort System
For Immediate Release
Glen Carbon, IL (Feb. 8, 2013) – Sorry Works! endorsed the “Patient Injury Act,” a proposal introduced in the Georgia Senate today to replace that state’s broken medical malpractice system with a no-blame, administrative model that will fairly compensate patients, increase patient safety and decrease the practice of defensive medicine.
The “Patient Injury Act” (PIA) would make it possible for the thousands of patients who do not receive compensation and are harmed by physicians to be compensated for their loss. It also would give physicians comfort to disclose their errors and work together to increase patient safety.
“I believe the PIA proposal will encourage doctors to communicate and be more transparent with patients and families after something goes wrong --- and that is best patient safety initiative, hands down,” said Doug Wojcieszak, Founder of Sorry Works! “I believe the PIA proposal is an approach that must be tried because when doctors own mistakes, including offering true apologies, then they are more likely to learn from errors and improve their systems and processes. Ultimately, PIA is about safety.”
A study by Emory University scholar Joanna Shepherd Bailey released last fall showed that trial attorneys rarely take cases where the compensation does not yield settlements of $500,000 or more. Patient cases take years to make their way through the courts. Under the Georgia legislation, patients would be compensated within less than a year.
“Another part of the proposal that really spoke to me is how patients with smaller or minor injuries due to error could be compensated,” added Wojcieszak.“There is no way a $50,000 case can be prosecuted by a personal injury lawyer – there is simply not enough money in the case. However, $50,000 of lost work, medical expenses, etc is huge money for most patients and families. This system provides an avenue to help these people. It needs to be tried.”
Wojcieszak is also a member of the board of Patients for Fair Compensation which is proposing the blame-free model introduced in the Georgia Senate. Under the “Patient Injury Act,” patients who have been harmed would file a claim for review by an independent panel of medical experts. If the panel deemed “avoidable harm” occurred, the claim would be forwarded to a Compensation Board to award compensation. Patients would no longer sue in court.
The plan is also expected to have a significant impact on the practice of “defensive medicine,” or when physicians order more tests than are medically necessary to keep from being sued. BioScience Valuation, a company that specializes in healthcare economics and financing, estimates that defensive medicine costs in the United States run about $270 to $650 billion annually.
The Georgia General Assembly will consider the “Patient Injury Act” this winter in its 40-day legislative session. It must adopt the proposal in the Senate and House and be signed by Gov. Nathan Deal to become law.
“The Patients’ Compensation System, if adopted, could become a model for the country,” Wojcieszak said. “It could give patients the protections only a few get when they successfully get to court and change our healthcare system so all of us are more comfortable when we see a doctor.”