We need alternatives to malpractice system

November 25, 2013

A reader notes that alternatives exist to the current adversarial system of settling medical malpractice claims.

The story on reforming the malpractice system (“Tort reform,” August 10, 2013) focused on physicians’ fear about undergoing the stress of a malpractice suit.

Whether a suit is baseless, and whether the physician wins or not, waiting on tenterhooks while attorneys argue over the merits of a suit is an ordeal that causes dread in most physicians.

Malpractice suits often take years to resolve. Worrying over how the outcome will affect their reputations and their livelihoods can force some physicians to quit practice. And who would want to be operated on by a surgeon who is disturbed and distracted because he/she is awaiting the settlement of a suit?

Several alternatives exist to the adversarial system, including early payment, apologizing, workers type of insurance, and health courts. All are humane methods and can be used to reasonably and fairly deal with patients and physicians.

Edward Volpintesta, MD

Bethel, Connecticut