Group floats major medical-malpractice legal changes

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With supporters saying they want to reduce “defensive medicine,” Florida lawmakers could consider proposals that would dramatically change the medical-malpractice legal system. A group called Patients for Fair Compensation wants to change the system to more closely resemble Florida’s process of resolving workers-compensation insurance claims, reports the News Service of Florida. Mike Harrell, a lobbyist for the group, said bills are being drafted and are expected to be sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, and Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City. Unlike the current medical-malpractice system, claims would go before a medical review board that would determine whether patients should receive compensation for their injuries. A fee schedule would be used to determine the compensation amounts. Richard Jackson, chairman of the group, said the system would lead to resolving claims more quickly and would also help curtail defensive medicine — which involves doctors and other providers ordering extra tests and procedures to help shield themselves from lawsuits. Others involved with the group include Charles R. Evans, president of International Health Services Corp. and a former executive of the HCA hospital chain who worked with Gov. Rick Scott. Past proposals to change the state’s medical-malpractice system have touched off major lobbying fights in the Legislature.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.