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Letter to the Editor: Suppressing medical malpractice victims not the answer

By JANE MARSHALL
Dover, Tenn.

Editor:

Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Max Baucus (D-MT) have introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to create special health courts on a pilot project basis.

By calling a system that would deny victims of medical malpractice a basic constitutional right, health courts suggests a Rovean approach to a problem influenced by Orwellian Newspeak. Health is a positive word aglitter with promise.

Unfortunately, it is the health of doctors' financial situation that is being addressed, not the health of medical malpractice victims nor the health of those thousands of patients who will become victims of medical malpractice every year.

The outcome of cases would be determined by medically trained judges who share a professional background with the defendants. There you have it: the fox in charge of guarding the hen house.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have victims of medical malpractice sit in judgment? After all, they know firsthand the financial cost of malpractice and the onerous weight of pain and suffering. If the name were changed to medical malpractice courts, I can't think the medical profession would be so quick to support the courts.

The push to set up health courts seems to be yet another way to place a cap on pain and suffering and to deny victims the basic constitutional right to have a jury decide the amount of compensation that is appropriate for their injury.

Doctors and those legislators who support them should take a more direct approach to cutting the cost of medical malpractice. They should work to greatly reduce the incidence of malpractice. By doing so, using the word health to describe their initiative would not be an insult to victims.





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