Malpractice lawsuits are common enough in the field of healthcare that most providers accept it as a constant risk. Millions of dollars are spent each year on mitigating that risk, inevitably increasing overhead costs for hospitals, offices, and individual practitioners.
Perhaps the most harmful aspect of this is the distrust that it sows. Ideally, patients should feel like they can trust their doctors and vice versa. Fear that something will go wrong plagues both parties. For the patient, their well-being is at stake. For physicians, there is the fear of a lawsuit. Ultimately, this can distract both from their ultimate goal: to make sure the patient receives the best care possible.
Fortunately, alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, provides a constructive alternative to malpractice litigation, and it can yield benefits for both providers and patients alike. These include improved disclosure, increased patient safety, reduced costs, and protection for both doctors and those they serve.
If something goes wrong with a medical procedure, the physician or hospital may obscure the nature of its own involvement in order to combat lawsuits. However, this only encourages litigation as patients try to find out what went wrong and how by pressing charges against them.
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ADR, on the other hand, provides a setting in which disclosure can help both parties reach a mutually beneficial conclusion. Arbitration, mediation, and other forms of ADR encourage full disclosure of the details in order to help doctors and patients discuss the issue openly and honestly. From there, a fair resolution can be made.
Increased Safety For Patients
The outcomes of mediation or arbitration not only result in more open disclosure concerning an event but in helping prevent that event in the future. In addition to the potential for reduced costs to healthcare providers, the actions taken after ADR can lead to improved care for future patients, ultimately reducing the risks of certain procedures, improving hospital conditions, and increasing patient safety.
The more ADR is used to resolve medical-related disputes, the fewer patients will rely on malpractice lawsuits to get answers and seek justice on their own behalf. This means less need for malpractice insurance, fewer dollars spent defending doctors from suits, and reduced losses due to successful malpractice litigation.
This not only reduces costs for doctors but for patients as well. Litigation costs money for both parties, and there is no guarantee that it will be successful. If an issue can be resolved out of court, it is financially beneficial for both patients and doctors to do so.
Protects Patients And Doctors
Ultimately, alternative dispute resolution protects both doctors and patients from each other. It encourages mutual understanding while discouraging both parties from attacking each other or assuming the “us or them” mindset that prevails in litigation. This means a mutually beneficial result is achievable, whereas, in litigation, only one party can win.
In order to be effective, ADR needs to be handled skillfully. Contact experienced dispute resolution lawyers at Hart & David in order to make sure both your doctors and your patients are properly cared for in the event that something goes wrong.