Medical malpractice claims can be stressful for all parties involved. Doctors may be so vocal about medical malpractice reform not just because of the costs but also because of the time involved waiting for a resolution and the stress involved in waiting. Sometimes this can cause even more distress than the financial costs. The average doctor can spend around eleven percent of his or her career waiting for resolution of medical malpractice claims. Specialists can spend even more time. When looking into medical malpractice reform, the speed with which cases are resolved should be taken into account.
The amount of time a doctor spends with a pending claim involve two factors. The first is the likelihood that the doctor will have a claim against them in any given year. The second is the length of time the legal process will take. On average, the typical medical malpractice claim is not filed until about two years after the incident occurred, and generally is not resolved until more than three and a half years after the incident.
The people who have researched this have recommended that strategies for speedier claim resolution be explored, such as tort reform and alternative dispute resolution tools. It is hoped that this would expedite the process of resolving medical malpractice claims and limit the number of meritless claims. As it stands now, even cases that are dismissed prior to trial take too long to resolve. Studies have shown that cases that are dismissed last between eighteen months to two years, cases that reach a settlement can last two to three years, and cases that reach a jury can take around four years to adjudicate. All these resolutions take a long time for both the patient and the doctor.
One possible remedy for limiting the number of lengthy lawsuits would be to have a system in place that would screen out cases that fail to meet the legal and medical standards for malpractice. Additionally, in cases where medical malpractice does occur there should be fair and swift compensation. In cases where there is no merit, they should be dismissed rapidly to prevent the waste of resources. This could help prevent the unanticipated costs patients and doctors experience do to lengthy medical malpractice cases.
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