Doctor offers options for fixing civil justice system

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Dr. Tom Weed has put hours of thought into ways to repair what he sees as a broken system of dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits.

Central to his ideas is the development of a proactive rather than an adversarial system to identify and assess patient injuries or unexpected outcome of treatment.

Weed suggests a centralized board with investigative power and the tools for determining when and if compensation is due.

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&uot;This board would have the ability to call upon true experts rather than relying on so-called expert witnesses that say what they are paid to say,&uot; Weed said.

When the investigative board determines fault or negligence in an incident, the case would be sent to the appropriate agency &045;&045; &uot;the Board of Medical Examiners, State Board of Nursing or Hospital Board, whichever would be appropriate,&uot; Weed said.

&uot;In this way, a negligent physician could be either helped by further education or assistance or restricted from any certain aspects of medical practice.&uot;

Weed said this system would put true experts in the decision-making position. Also, he believes &uot;the adversarial relationship between doctor and patient could be eliminated by avoiding the tort system entirely,&uot; he said.

&uot;There would not be plaintiff attorneys going after the deepest pockets or shotgun suits naming everyone within 50 miles as a defendant,&uot; Weed said.

Perhaps most important, the board system would result in the truly needy people who were injured or who suffered from an unexpected, poor outcome.

&uot;Secondary benefits include a marked reduction of overall cost,&uot; he said. &uot;And there would be a much more reliable reporting of such injuries since there would be no fear of lawsuits.&uot;