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Study Finds Doctors Often Refuse To Participate In Malpractice Mediation

The Wall Street Journal Health blog recently discussed the results of a new study of mediation in medical malpractice cases. Overall, the results were clear in finding that mediation helped lower the cost of litigation and created a reduction in medical errors. But there was one major hurdle: doctors themselves usually refused to participate in the helpful process.

Mediation is a voluntary process where the parties in a disagreement work with an impartial mediator to help resolve the issues through mutual negotiations.

The Journal of Health Politics published the New York study, which examined 31 malpractice cases involving mediation. Of those, slightly more than 50% were settled through the process. Another 5 were settled shortly afterward and about 1/3 were not settled. Plaintiff’s attorneys were more likely than defense attorneys to agree to the process, but all lawyers who were involved reported satisfaction with the mediation.

Unfortunately, not a single physician participated in any of the 31 mediations. Part of the problem, according to the study’s co-author was that hospital administrators and hospital lawyers discouraged the doctor’s from attending the conference. They worried about what might be said and how that might affect a potential trial.

As a result, the doctor’s missed the chance to connect with their former patient and work together through the issue. In addition, the study’s author explained that those piecing the event together missed the physicians input to better understand what happened and how to prevent it in the future.

Our Chicago malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti are committed to doing everything in our power to work with victimized patients to reasonable seek redress for their losses. The legal process can be carried out fairly and efficiently in a variety of methods (including using mediation). But in all cases the honest participation of all parties is required. Unfortunately, many in the medical professions are less interested in resolving issues efficiently and more interested in attempting to pass arbitrary legislation that completely takes the legal rights away from victims of malpractice.

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