Report

Expertise in Medical Malpractice Litigation: Special Courts, Screening Panels, and Other Options

  • October 20, 2003
  • By Catherine T. Struve

Critics of the current malpractice-litigation system in Pennsylvania are correct to suggest that the system would benefit from increased expertise in the judicial system. However, according to this report, the proposals growing out of that insight vary in their likely effectiveness. Authored by University of Pennsylvania Assistant Professor of Law, Catherine T. Struve, “Expertise in Medical Malpractice Litigation: Special Courts, Screening Panels, and Other Options,” finds that reforms in the handling of malpractice cases should focus on supporting the efforts of judges and juries to assess scientific and medical questions and on providing guidance for the award and review of non-economic damages.

“Though much of the recent malpractice reform debate has focused on substantive questions, the procedures for adjudicating malpractice disputes deserve close attention,” said Susan Liss, executive director of The Project on Medical Liability in Pennsylvania. “This fascinating look into possible procedural changes--before, during and after trial--will be a valuable tool for state policy makers seeking to end the med-mal crisis now gripping this state.

“While many of the procedural reforms now being discussed today have merit, Professor Struve tells us we should be focusing squarely on supporting the efforts of judges and juries in assessing the liability and damages questions these cases bring to bear.”