Bill would test "health courts" for malpractice cases

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Legislators want to try out a unique tort reform solution: special health courts dedicated to resolving medical malpractice claims.

A new bill working its way through Congress would provide 10 states with grants to establish so-called health courts in which medical experts would hear malpractice cases. The bipartisan Fair and Reliable Medical Justice Act would also seek to promote the disclosure of medical errors and other data to be collected and analyzed by the states with pilot projects, according to Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), one of the bill's sponsors.

For the last decade, Congress has been deadlocked on the issue of tort reform. Supporters of health courts idea believe the measure would offer those injured a faster and fairer resolution and at the same time promote quality improvement. Those against the idea believe patients injured by doctors have the right to a jury's verdict in a courtroom.