Joint Commission weighs in on medical liability

May 1, 2005

While the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has traditionally kept its focus on patient safety, it's now jumping into the medical liability debate.

While the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has traditionally kept its focus on patient safety, it's now jumping into the medical liability debate. In a recent report, it proposed making changes to the current medical liability system to focus on patients and patient safety.

The report, Health Care at the Crossroads: Strategies for Improving the Medical Liability System and Preventing Patient Injury, says that the current medical liability system is a failure because it does not deter negligence or compensate injured patients fairly, among other things. As alternatives, the Joint Commission proposes implementing demonstration projects, including early settlement offers, no-fault administrative systems, health courts, and the use of court-appointed, independent expert witnesses. It also recommends increasing open communication between patients and health-care practitioners as well as creating an injury compensation system that would provide equitable payment to injured patients quickly.

In addition, the Joint Commission called for a redesign or replacement of the National Practitioner Data Bank, noting that the national repository of malpractice and disciplinary data on practitioners has not proven to be a "meaningful, valid, and reliable" tool to measure physician performance, reported Modern Healthcare (2/14/05).