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Special medical malpractice courts may ease case backlog

In many states, the backlog of medical malpractice lawsuits awaiting resolution is staggering. Such cases are also often complex, requiring an understanding of difficult technical and scientific information.

But is Pennsylvania looking for new ways to reduce medical malpractice claims throughout the state? Another state has taken a new approach that could potentially get rid of a medical malpractice lawsuit backlog in the court system.

Supporters of this procedure believe that it would allow swifter access to resolution of disputes between a patient and hospital, as well as lowering cost and improving the accuracy of the disposition of such cases.

In New York, for example, a new pilot program starting this next month will use federal funds to provide specialized training for judges who will focus on medical malpractice issues. There has been some initial success in courts that have specialized in medical malpractice claims. One judge in particular has managed to settle over 1,000 of these types of claims in the past 15 years.

It appears that these courts investigate incidents of medical malpractice earlier in the process and then work to settle the claim. This can result in faster resolutions and help the court system handle some of the more complex issues that can arise in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Will more states follow this type of program? And while this particular tactic may help to reduce the number of cases in backlog, will the push for early settlements be unfair to victims of medical malpractice?

Being injured as a result of a doctor or nurse's negligence can be devastating for a patient. There can be long-term implications such as permanent disabilities that result from the medical error. Compensation from a medical malpractice lawsuit can help a victim deal with the expenses while also holding the negligent party responsible.

Regardless of whether there is a backlog or not, a victim's claim should be investigated thoroughly and they should receive the compensation they deserve.

Source: Crain's New York Business: "NY courts to focus more on medical malpractice," Nov. 11, 2011

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