Michael E. Getnick, President of the New York State Bar Association, recently submitted written testimony to the New York State Senate on the subject of medical malpractice reform. His testimony points out that over 100 thousand people die each year from unavoidable medical errors. He also speaks of several basic, yet important facts that seem to be overlooked by those in favor of wholesale medical malpractice reform:
1) The number of medical malpractice lawsuits has remained consistent in recent years. 4,318 medical malpractice suits were filed in New York State in 1998 compared with 4,195 in 2008.
2) No medical malpractice suit is filed without having a doctor’s review of the facts supporting a conclusion that malpractice occurred.
3) If a frivolous lawsuit is filed, a judge can sanction the lawyer and dismiss the case.
4) If a jury awards too large an amount, a judge can reduce it.
5) The losing side can appeal a decision.
Getnick concludes, “We strongly urge that careful consideration be given to proposed changes to the law relating to medical malpractice, to ensure that they, in fact, would improve the system rather than impair access to the civil justice system, a system that was designed with several checks and balances to ensure that it is not easily abused. It is necessary for people to have adequate ‘access’ to the civil justice system, and to have the trust and confidence in the system which is essential to the operation of a democratic society. I respectfully urge that this be a primary consideration for you and your colleagues as you work on this important issue.”
To read all of Mr. Getnick’s testimony, please click here