Medical malpractice premiums in Dade County are perhaps the most expensive in the nation, forcing many clinicians to make dramatic choices when it comes to coverage.

In response, Florida legislators are thinking hard about reworking the state’s medical malpractice model and incorporating a new patient compensation schema. By using an administrative rather than judicial process for medical malpractice claims, the newly proposed system would closely model the state workers’ compensation system.

The patient compensation system, in its current outline, would replace the current malpractice system, drastically reducing unnecessary medical costs in the state. Senate Bill 1588/House Bill 1233 proposes to completely overhaul the flailing medical liability process in Florida, creating a new way for patients to gain compensation.

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The new system is designed to be non-adversarial and includes patient advocates, an independent review panel (to determine whether claims have merit), a compensation department (devoted to recommending appropriate compensation), oversight by a judge, and a quality improvement counsel (to look at medical errors and then develop best practices). Proponents of this proposed bill argue that the new system is patient-focused, faster, and will avoid the high costs and complexity of the current medical liability system. Proponents also believe that the bill would reduce malpractice insurance costs for clinicians, and would curtail the need to practice defensive medicine.

The intention, ultimately, is to eliminate the practice of defensive medicine, increase the quality of healthcare across the state, protect healthcare providers from unfair litigation, and provide injured parties with fair compensation.

Most Florida health care practitioners are enthusiastic about the bill and the possibilities it presents. According to a statewide survey conducted by Oppenheim Research, 93% of Florida physicians support this legislation.