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Trial Lawyers & Doctors Oppose Medical Malpractice Bill

Both Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA) and Medication Association of Georgia (MAG) have come out against Senate Bill 141, which is designed to replace the state’s medical malpractice system with a worker’s compensation-like review board.

The bill, also called the Patient Injury Act, is back by a group of health care administrators and providers known as Patients for Fair Compensation. The group claims the changes would curb unnecessary and costly medical procedures, allow more injured patients to be compensated, and speed up the claims process.

The bill calls for the creation of independent review panels designed to analyze patients’ injury claims. The group also said that under the proposal “patients would be compensated within less than a year.”

But former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, a Republican, claims the bill is unconstitutional based on the state Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery v. Nestlehutt, 286 Ga. 731. Justices unanimously overturned a state law setting caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, ruling that caps violate the state constitution by impinging on the right to a jury trial.

In addition to calling the proposal unconstitutional, GTLA and MAG have criticized the measure for being bureaucratic and costly.

GTLA asserts the new system “would be manned by biased healthcare providers sitting in judgment of their colleagues.” MAG says the new system would increase the number of claims against doctors and hospitals.