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This idea deserves trial?outside the courts


FEW IDEAS—good or bad—receive immediate acceptance without some sort of trial run. We're heartened that an idea that we think could prove to be a very good one may get its chance at a trial run sooner rather than later.

That's the idea of having special health courts deal with medical malpractice cases. Proponents of such courts, which would allow experts to review claims and pay compensation according to a schedule of benefits much as is the case in workers compensation, hold the courts would speed compensation and give some missing certainty to the system.

As we reported recently, health courts have received renewed attention, and for good reason. The current litigation-based system takes a considerable amount of time to deliver results. The truly injured may have to wait an unjustifiably long time to get their just compensation, if they ever receive it. In other cases, a less meritorious complaint may get compensation out of proportion to the loss.

Bipartisan legislation that would allow states to use health courts on a trial basis has been introduced in both houses of Congress. We urge lawmakers to approve it. Health courts may not provide all--or maybe even any--of the answers needed to improve the medical malpractice compensation system. But even the best idea must prove itself worthy or unworthy, and health courts deserve the opportunity to do so.