Health Courts for Medical Malpractice Cases in Maryland

Medical Economics has an editorial from a medical malpractice defense lawyer who has defended physicians in malpractice cases for over 32 years. The author expresses the opinion that after having tried over 200 medical malpractice jury trials and won over 90 percent of those cases that if the same cases had been tried before health courts, the number of plaintiff’s medical malpractice verdicts would have been much higher.

The idea behind health courts is that specially trained judges or a panel of medical doctors would hear medical malpractice cases without juries and decide liability and/or damages for the malpractice plaintiff.

This malpractice defense lawyer in this editorial praises the malpractice defense bar in Ohio for aggressively defending “questionable cases” as opposed to settling cases where there is only a small possibility of an adverse outcome and praises doctors for taking “time from their practices to participate in trials.” (Actually, I’m not sure participation was optional but okay.)

The author concludes with a reference to that pesky little Seventh Amendment’s right to a jury trial, a right that medical malpractice tort reform advocates don’t mind turning away from to suit their purposes. Maybe James Madison and his colleagues were on to something when they decided that there was something important about a jury trial. Who knew?

Okay, so now medical malpractice lawyers on both sides believe that health courts make little sense. This makes it all the more puzzling the Maryland State Bar Association decided to have a discussion group – that was poorly attended I’m told – on health courts in Maryland. We tried health claims arbitration in Maryland. It failed miserably.