28. Medical Malpractice

To determine whether a person should be compensated for medical malpractice, a group/jury of maybe 30 doctors, specialists, or other people qualified to perform the type of procedure that the defending doctor is being accused of doing wrong, should be gathered together in a room and should be given and told all the information that the defendant doctor knew at the time. This jury of 30 doctors, specialists, etc., should vote and decide whether the doctor acted reasonably correctly or incorrectly according to the information available at the time. It may be appropriate to require different voting thresholds (i.e. majority vote, 2/3 majority, 3/5 majority, 4/5 majority, etc.) for different types of charges that many range from minor things to murder. If it is found that the doctor didn’t have all the information required or needed at the time, then any people responsible for that lack of information should be punished.

Human Health Index

People’s physical conditions should be graded on a 100-point scale where a grade of 100 would indicate practically perfect health on all physical aspects of the individual, and where a 0 would indicate a dead individual.

This would be a nice system to have as another measure of human health, but it could also be used to determine what type of punishment should be given to a doctor who committed medical malpractice. For example, a patient who, prior to surgery had a certain score, say 80, and after the surgery in which the doctor allegedly made a mistake, the patient’s score dropped to 30, this would provide a quantitative measure of the doctor’s errors.

Of course, to understand the significance of the doctor’s error, there must first be a history of patients with a similar initial condition and grade and similar operation. If the patient’s grade after the operation is very different from what would have been expected by a statistical analysis of similar cases, and also if a professional panel of experts agree that the results are significantly abnormal, then a proper punishment could begin to be formulated. However, the facts of the particular case would dominate any discussion of penalties against the doctors.

This system could be used to determine at least part of a doctor’s punishment. For example, if a patient with an initial condition of 30 undergoes an operation, then during or after which his condition changes to 0 (patient dies), the doctor or surgeon would not be punished as much as if a patient with an initial condition of 90 dropped down to 10 as a result of a similar operation. In other words, at least one factor in determining medical malpractice penalties would be how much the medical error changed the condition of the patient, and not just whether or not the error resulted in his death.

This same basic system could be used to help reduce hospital and medical facility errors such as misdiagnosis, wrong treatment/surgery, even new infections and injuries, etc., by charging the hospital, doctor, and other responsible entities a significant fine based on the degree of damage to the patient. This would encourage hospitals to take measures to reduce error rates. The actual amount of each fine would depend on the severity of the error as well as on the particular facts of each case, but perhaps a good rule of thumb should be a compensation package which includes the free delivery of all corrective actions necessary plus a punitive multiple equivalent to twice the amount it costs to both perform and correct the error. The minimum punitive multiple for any significant error could be set at $1,000.

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