New York State is developing a system of specialized medical malpractice courts. There are approximately 4,000 medical malpractice cases filed in New York every year and the volume threatens to overwhelm the court system. The goal of the program is two-fold: reduce backlogs and save money.
One of the inspirations for this program can be traced to New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which operates the city’s 11 public hospitals. The corporation created its own claims department in 2006, focusing on rapid response to patients filing claims. They found that settling rather than fighting claims gets compensation into the hands of the injured more quickly and saves the corporation the cost of lengthy trials.
A Bronx judge who has been specializing in medical malpractice cases for some time observed that it is easier for the city to participate in such programs. Justice Douglas McKeon observed that municipal entities such as the corporation don’t have investments that they need to get certain returns on. “They’re not an insurance company or one of those captive creations some hospitals put together.” In addition to saving money, having one judge focus on a case streamlines the process.
A $3 million federal grant is being used to train judges in NewYork City and Erie County.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “More NY courts to focus on medical malpractice”, Nov. 11, 2011.