Two court cases have put Guam’s controversial medical malpractice law under the microscope again.
The claims, which involve the death of a newborn and a young boy, are tragic reminders that the law needs further scrutiny.
On Saturday, The Guam Daily Post ran the second and last part of its series on the challenges of holding medical practitioners accountable under the law.
Guam law forces arbitration proceedings, an out-of-court process to settle disputes, in medical malpractice cases. The costs, which could reach tens of thousands, must be borne by the parties. A party can take the case to court afterward, but it is that initial financial burden that opponents say imposes an unreasonable hurdle on individuals seeking relief.
The law makes it too difficult financially and procedurally to hold negligent medical professionals accountable. Families who have lost children have found it very costly or almost impossible to sue because of the required arbitration that they must pay for.
It’s not right that the law protects insurance companies at the expense of grieving families. These families should be able to have their day in court to seek justice.
The Legislature must step in to make things right. Senators must change the law so that individuals and families can sue in cases involving injury and death.
Furthermore, the law must be changed to deter malpractice. It is dangerous that professionals can get away with being negligent in life-or-death situations.
We hope that senators make revisiting the law a priority because lives are at stake. An issue regarding public health, one of our community's top priorities, needs the attention of senators. They must act now to find a remedy to a problem that has lingered for decades.
We can’t forget how quickly lawmakers moved to legalize recreational marijuana. We hope that they will feel the same urgency to protect patients from harm and their families from anguish.
Nothing can bring back those children who died, but we hope that one day their grieving parents find comfort in knowing that such a tragedy won’t happen to another family.