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Health Courts Would Curb 'Staggering Waste,' Attorney Says

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 18, 2012

Philip K. Howard, JD, founder and chair of a Washington D.C.-based government reform organization named Common Good, and whose trustees espouse the spectrum of political views, from conservative Newt Gingrich to liberal Bill Bradley, is convinced that the government can make a major push to curtail the high cost of malpractice litigation.

He's not joking.

The creation of health courts would erode this bane of physicians' practices, and make a major dent in the costly toll malpractice has on healthcare, he argues. Health courts—specialized, fast-paced, administrative courts—would speed the resolution of malpractice suits, which are currently mired in the slow, plodding "regular" courts where litigation drags on for years.  

These specialty courts for healthcare matters also could help establish standards that would thwart the use of costly "defensive medicine" that physicians enlist to offset litigation in the first place, Howard says.

"Health courts are aimed not at stopping lawsuits, but at making medical justice reliably distinguish between good care and bad," Howard wrote this month in the Health Affairs blog. "They, therefore, hold the key to eliminating the staggering waste of defensive medicine better than any other proposed reform."

Howard, a partner in the Covington & Burling Washington D.C. law firm, founded Common Good in 2002, which, he says, is "advising federal, state, and local officials on government overhaul, regulatory reform and elimination of obsolete laws."

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9 comments on "Health Courts Would Curb 'Staggering Waste,' Attorney Says"


Marcos A. Vargas, MSHA, PA-C (7/5/2013 at 1:32 PM)
Mr. Tyco Brade post is erroneous & nonfactual or non evidence-based. Why? because the literature (surveys,research, analyses) allways point to the fact that defensive medicne is practiced by over 75% (up to 97%)of physicians in our country. And those are the facts and not skewed opinions.But then again most people don't fact check their informational sources.

Thomas Cox (12/1/2012 at 1:12 PM)
Virginia has had the strictest medical malpractice tort reform in the country since 1976 and it has helped hold malpractice premiums down, but health care costs in Virginia have increased at the same rate as everywhere else in the country. I am not against tort reform that makes for a quicker, fairer, and less expensive process, but don't look to tort reform to reduce the cost of health care. The evidence of the real world does not support this theory.

Michele (10/23/2012 at 9:11 AM)
There have been NO reductions in healthcare costs in states that have enacted tort reform. As a matter of fact, Texas has the most dilligent tort reform and they have the second highest healthcare costs in the nation according to CMS. Why don't individuals that want national tort reform respond to this?? Where is the proof????