Mandatory malpractice arbitration law, potential fix compared

Mandatory malpractice arbitration law, potential fix compared


On Wednesday, two years after the attempt to fix a law that requires mandatory arbitration for medical malpractice claims on Guam, lawmakers held another informational hearing to solicit community input.

A comparison between the current law and proposed bill was provided on Wednesday by two attorneys who have been on either side of malpractice claims: attorney Mitch Thompson, who has been a defense lawyer for healthcare providers in malpractice cases, and attorney Robert Keogh whose personal injury practice has assisted a number of claimants over the years.

Sunset aerial photo of the Guam Memorial Hospital

The arbitration requirement has been called costly and prohibitive, preventing residents who wish to file a claim from ever doing so, with the average costs estimated at $40,000 to $60,000. Bill 112, introduced by Speaker Therese Terlaje, would create a new process for screening claims through a magistrate judge.

But many members of the medical community have come out in opposition to the bill, saying that a repeal of the current law would open the door to frivolous claims, rising malpractice insurance costs, and force doctors to reduce the scope of their practices.

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