Bronx County Supreme Court Justice Douglas E. McKeon began a “judge-directed negotiations” program by sending judges to a mini-medical school approximately three years ago, according the Sunday New York Times and a modernmedicine.com article. The mini-medical school program for judges includes classes that teach anatomy, biomechanics and human locomotion. This allows judges to play a more active role in helping negotiate settlements in medical malpractice cases. The goal for “judge-directed negotiations” is to settle medical malpractice suits as quickly as possible, getting the best possible outcome for those involved.
Since its beginnings the “judge-directed negotiations” program has spread and now includes New York, Kings and Queens Counties as well. According to the article, the program will also be evaluated by the Harvard School of Public Health with the goal of eventually expanding to a nation-wide program.
According to the modernmedicine.com article, this program will probably be good news for physicians for three reasons. They are:
- “More medically-knowledgeable judges, who also have the option of consulting with clinical experts, can dispose of frivolous suits before they clog up the court system;
- Even when lawsuits are found to have merit, the system is designed to settle them early in the process before a lot of administrative costs are incurred;
- The presence of the judge can keep discussion more rational and often avoids a jury trial, which can result in astronomical judgments against medical practitioners.”