“Health Courts” and Accountability for Patient Safety

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Proposals that medical malpractice claims be removed from the tort system and processed in an alternative system, known as administrative compensation or ‘health courts,’ attract considerable policy interest during malpractice ‘crises,’ including the current one. This article describes current proposals for the design of a health court system and the system’s advantages for improving patient safety. Among these advantages are the cultivation of a culture of transparency regarding medical errors and the creation of mechanisms to gather and analyze data on medical injuries. The article discusses the experiences of foreign countries with administrative compensation systems for medical injury, including their use of claims data for research on patient safety; choices regarding the compensation system’s relationship to physician disciplinary processes; and the proposed system’s possible limitations.

Author(s): Michelle M. Mello; David M. Studdert; Allen B. Kachalia; Troyen A. Brennan

Keywords: liability; malpractice; patient safety; discipline

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Volume 84, Issue 3 (pages 459–492)
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2006.00455.x
Published in 2006