Medical Justice is what appears to be a new organization whose aim is to “’prevent, deter and respond’ to frivolous malpractice lawsuits.”
This seems like a goal we – including good plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawyers – can agree on, right? Frivolous lawsuits hurt everyone. For a cost of $625 to $1990 a year Medical Justice will give you:
•Pursuit of counterclaims against expert witnesses in their professional societies and state licensing boards
•Published database of members on the Internet to notify plaintiffs and their representatives that the physician is backed by an organization with the expertise, will, and funds to fight back
•Establishment of pre-emptive critical practice infrastructure to deter plaintiffs without interfering with the patient-doctor relationship
•Proactive early intervention strategy that can be executed in the event you are sued
•Access to PEER team of volunteer defense experts
•License to use Patient-Physician contract template language
•License to use contract template language to prevent being forced into small-claims court
•License to use contract template language to prevent physician being defamed on the Internet
•Access to program to address unwarranted requests for refunds or write-offs
•Allocation of up to $100,000 as assignee to pursue viable counterclaims, when requested and appropriate
Except for the first and the last, these are pretty much fluff benefits. The most absurd is the use of “license[d]” contract language to file a complaint. Please. I’ll put these on the Maryland personal injury lawyer website to save everyone the trouble.
I find the first one interesting – the pursuit of counterclaims against expert witnesses. It is an interesting strategy of trying to attack experts who are willing to stand up for patients. The last one is also interesting: up to $100,000 in legal fees to pursue counterclaims when “requested and appropriate.” Gee, I wonder who gets to decide what is appropriate… I’m guessing Medical Justice.
What troubles me about Medical Justice is the kind of doctors this is likely to attract: good doctors. This program appeals to good doctors who are unlikely to ever have a medical malpractice claim brought against them, but they fear frivolous lawsuits. As awful as they are for society, there is never going to be a jury verdict in a frivolous case. So why should doctors fear frivolous lawsuits? The doctor’s malpractice carrier will hire an excellent medical malpractice defense lawyer to get the case dismissed long before a settlement or verdict.
Wait you say, jurors award damages in frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits all of the time and frivolous malpractice cases settle all of the time. Okay, let’s ignore the studies that prove this is false and just pretend this is an accurate statement. If a case is settled or a jury finds against you, that is going to be an absolute defense to any claim that a medical malpractice lawsuit is frivolous. So there is no way this “insurance policy” (which I doubt is actually an insurance policy, anyway, because I suspect the term frivolous will be defined by Medical Justice) is going to have any real meaning for end users. It is like selling terrorism insurance in some farm town in Kansas. It is an illusory security blanket. (This was probably shot down as the Medical Justice motto.)
Medical Justice is “run by physicians for physicians.” They don’t exactly note this is a non-profit. So it is doctors trying to make a buck off other doctors by capitalizing on their fear of medical malpractice.
On the Medical Justice website, they offer a slew of testimonials, the majority of which are just puff, vague, “hey, you are great” testimonials. Of the few “results” testimonials Medical Justice offers, all could be attributed to the work of the doctors’ medical malpractice lawyer whose job it is to defend these cases in the first place.
If I’m wrong about this, Medical Justice let me know. And here is my challenge to you. Tell us exactly what your “results” have been. How many lawyers have you successfully brought claims against for filing frivolous lawsuits? How many actual claims have you brought? How many experts have you sued for standing up for patients? How many experts have you sued successfully? How many volunteer experts have acually provided testimony? If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But I doubt it. If you are a doctor reading this, please make sure you ask these questions before you give them a single penny.