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Streamlined medical malpractice in New York City: The new normal

Medical malpractice is a key area and potential growing concern in the new era of healthcare. As hospitals become more corporate in their practices, managing malpractice claims is a greater priority. New York City hospitals, including the city's Health and Hospital Corporation, are in particular making changes to how they handle medical malpractice claims to reduce their costs. For individuals with malpractice claims, these policy changes may impact how they should handle any claim against the hospitals.

The Health and Hospitals Corporation put in place an initiative several years ago to reduce the number of malpractice claims against public hospitals. Their new policies have had a dramatic impact on the number of malpractice claims and the amount paid out in malpractice claims and lawsuits. Over a decade, the number of filings has dropped by 28 percent and the amount paid out per year has dropped by more than 30 percent to $130 million, as of 2011.

Part of the city's changed policy that they acknowledge is to settle claims much earlier in the process where there is clear case of malpractice. In addition, cases are undergoing review for merit very early to wrap up claims and keep costs down. This change in policy has varied ramifications depending upon the nature of the claims

At times, this streamlined approach can benefit claimants and enable them to get a well-deserved settlement much earlier than they had in the past. However, there could also be potential costs to claimants with the new approach. In a streamlined review, the facts of a case may not be as well explored, especially if a claimant does not have a good understanding of the relevant New York law. For claimants to have the best chance to protect their rights in the new era of streamlining medical malpractice claims, they need to know what those rights are.

Source: wnyc.org, "Report: City Hospitals Turn Corner on Medical Malpractice Suits," Bob Hennelly, Dec. 28, 2012

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