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Pennsylvania medical malpractice debate continues

The former president of the Luzerne County Medical Society believes reforms enacted in response to the Pennsylvania medical malpractice crisis have failed to address the problems. According to Dr. Dan Kopen, the only solution is to overhaul the entire court system so that special courts are established for medical malpractice cases.

By using medical experts, instead of lay juries, Kopen thinks a more accurate way to determine whether or not malpractice has occurred will exist. Kopen says the current system allows trial lawyers to rely on what he refers to as “junk science” and the sympathy of juries to win a case when a doctor may have done nothing wrong.

Not everyone agrees with Kopen's ideas, however. Paul Lyon, executive director of the Committee for Justice for All, said changing the current tort system is a violation of the second amendment, which allows a person to have a jury of their peers decide what is fair. Lyon's non-profit Northeastern Pennsylvania advocacy group is trying to fight to preserve the integrity of the civil justice system and the Constitutional right of all Americans to have a trial by a jury of their peers.

For a doctor to suggest an average person is unable to understand technical aspects of medical malpractice cases is, according to Lyon, insulting. Instead, Lyon thinks it is the jobs of lawyers on both sides to do a sufficient job in educating jurors about technical aspects of medical malpractice cases.

For more than 250 years the American jury system has been working well, Lyon stressed, and by changing it to hold doctors at a different standard than everyone else is unfair. While the system does have its flaws, Lyon points to the American jury system as the envy of the free world.

The medical malpractice debate has raged on for five years, but both sides continue to debate the issue while little changes have occurred in light of growing research.

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