What is Medical Malpractice Liability?

Medical malpractices take an ugly turn when the nature of the case is so severe that the sufferer files for compensation in court against the alleged doctor. Once the case reaches the court, it is troublesome for both parties as cases are expensive, time consuming and mentally exhausting.

We have often come up with the term medical malpractice liability but have little knowledge about the same. Liability is always on part of the doctors as they bear legal and moral responsibilities and suffer tremendous financial loss too. Here are some more, lesser-known facts about liability in terms of medical malpractices.

What is Medical Liability?

Liability refers to an obligation made by law to perform certain duties. Liabilities exist in all professions. Qualifications and licenses award certain duties and rights to the beholder. Professionals are under obligation to provide quality services owning to these rights.

Doctors are no exception to this rule. In fact the emphasis of this law is stronger for doctors than for other professionals. Any failure to provide quality medical services to patients may result in patient’s poor health or even death. This obligation of doctors refers to liability of performance, failing which doctors are liable to be sued under medical malpractice laws.

What is Medical Malpractice Insurance?

Doctors are under the obligation to make accurate diagnosis of the patients and suggest effective ways of treating the illness. Often the patients do not feel that the doctors have done their duties well, leading to severe problems. Under such scenarios, the patients are allowed to file a case in court and levy the doctor with negligence charges. Medical malpractice cases invite tremendous expenses.

To deal with such expenses without affecting regular finances, doctors opt for medical malpractice insurance that guarantees to cover up the legal expenses and compensation, if any. However, the charges of medical lawsuits are so expensive that the doctors need to pay heavy premium amounts. Often the premiums go beyond budget and disallow a practitioner from buying insurance.

Medical Liability System – Negative aspects and Solutions

Medical Malpractice lawsuits are criticized to be expensive and inefficient. Since 1975, the malpractice litigation expenses have increased by 12% annually. As the litigation, insurance and premium expenses increased, doctors could not afford to buy an insurance cover. They preferred to limit business risks or move to states with easier liability systems. In order to reduce the expenses, there were some suggestions made to alter the tort reforms. It included three points.

Arrange for special medical malpractice courts that would include a panel of judges who are proficient in medical know-how. This would fasten the pace of trials

Reduce the costing for non-economic damages such as emotional trauma and loss of relationship in order to reduce the claims, which will have a direct bearing on premiums.

Reduce the period of statute of limitations, which will allow giving justice when it matters and be helpful towards bringing in more evidences quickly.

Differences in Nature of Liability Laws

Limit on Damage Awards – 38 state jurisdictions have put a cap on the amount of damage awards whereas 14 jurisdictions do not have any limitations.

Limit on Attorney Fees – 28 states jurisdictions have levied a cap on the amount of attorney’s fees.

Statute of Limitations – Every state has different periods of 2 to 5 years based on nature of case to provide a period of time for filing malpractice cases

Doctor Apologies – 36 states have a provision that allows doctors to issue apologies or present apologetic gestures

Joint and Several Liabilities – 27 state jurisdictions have policies that allow levying charges for joint and several liabilities

Certificate of Merit – 22 states have made it mandatory to allow a certificate of merit in order to bring forward a case of malpractice

Peer Panels – Barring just three jurisdictions, all other states allow setting up review panels to get expert opinion on cases

Medical Malpractice Liability is often accused of being manipulative and overtly expensive. Although it was initiated with a noble objective, it has often been into controversies. Liabilities should not affect the quality of medical care provided at medical centres.