Group Pushes to Gut Tennessee Medical Malpractice System

If a group called Medical Justice has their way, the medical malpractice system in Tennessee will vanish.

The spring, lawmakers will debate the merits of the medical malpractice system and whether a new system, where doctors instead of courts will decide whether malpractice has occurred, will lead to better health outcomes and lower health care costs.

Opposing Viewpoints

On one side of the ring, we have Jeff Segal, a neurosurgeon and the head of the group Medical Justice. He argues that the medical malpractice system is too harsh toward doctors. A doctor who admits any mistake, he argues, risks their entire financial security. And so, to prevent mistakes, doctors must order several unnecessary tests to stave off potential litigation. He claims that defensive medicine practices add 20 percent to the cost of healthcare. Cutting those costs via malpractice reform would help foster better relationships between patients and doctors.

In the other corner, we have Andy Spears, leader of Tennessee Citizen Action, a group that opposes the reform. He believes that allowing doctors to protect doctors is not the right way to handle malpractice cases. He says there is need for accountability that the new system would jeopardize. Another argument of his is that the current system works just fine. Judges and juries rarely award significant sums of money to malpractice victims, and when they do, those costs are justified. And the threat of litigation spurs doctors to take extra care to avoid malpractice.

Spears sees an ulterior motive to this new system. Six years ago, Tennessee capped damages for medical malpractice. This means that victims can only receive up to a certain amount of money for their pain and suffering. Spears thinks the caps are unconstitutional, and that this new reform effort is a way for proponents of the caps to avoid having to defend them.

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”