Health Care Providers, Patients Benefit Under “Early Offer” Medical Malpractice Plan

Health care providers could save millions of dollars and years of litigating medical malpractice claims under a proposed “early offer” statute that also benefits patients, new research shows.

UVA Law School professor Jeffrey O’Connell proposed the plan in the May/June 2007 issue of Milbank Quarterly, a journal devoted to issues of health policy. Under the bill, which could be adopted at either the state or federal level, a health care provider would have the option of offering an injured patient periodic payments of the patient’s net economic losses within 180 days after a claim is filed. The early offer statute would guarantee coverage of medical expenses not already covered by other sources, including rehabilitation and lost wages. An additional 10 percent is payable for the claimant’s attorney’s fee. The early offer plan does not provide coverage for pain and suffering.