From the Wall Street Journal on July 22nd:
To cut medical-malpractice costs, five New York City hospitals have agreed to a pilot program to divulge medical mistakes early, offer settlements quickly and use special state "health courts,'' where judges will help negotiate agreements before cases go to trial.
..."Judge-directed negotiations'' will likely resemble a long-time mediation effort by Bronx Judge Douglas McKeon, who is credited with helping to cut malpractice costs incurred by New York City's Health and Hospitals Corp., which runs the city's public hospitals. The mediation effort has cut payouts to $130 million this year, from a high of $196 million in 2003, said Al Aviles, HHC's president.
...Nicholas I. Timko, president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, said he was hopeful but had concerns. "We favor initiatives that promote patient safety, but are concerned that the disclosure and early settlement program may allow negligent providers to escape responsibility for their actions and exploit patients unrepresented by counsel,'' he said.
Read the full article [here].
Of course this raises many, many questions. To start with, here are two:
1) is this a new form of med-arb?
2) Do the judges have any formal mediation training?