Interest-based mediation of medical malpractice lawsuits

A route to improved patient safety?

Chris Stern Hyman, Carol B. Liebman, Clyde B. Schechter, William M. Sage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mediation of medical malpractice lawsuits provides savings for the parties by shortening the litigation process. In theory, information that aids emotional healing and improves patient care can also surface through mediation. The study discussed in this article used structured interviews of participants and mediators in thirty-one mediated malpractice lawsuits involving eleven nonprofit hospitals. The study measured perceptions of the process and mediation's effects on settlement, expenses, apology, satisfaction, and information exchange. Defense lawyers were less likely than plaintiff attorneys to mediate. Both plaintiff and defense attorneys were satisfied with the process, as were plaintiffs, hospital representatives, and insurers. Changes in hospitals' practices or policies to improve patient safety were identified. This study demonstrates that major challenges stand in the way of achieving mediation's full benefits. Absence of physician participation minimizes the chances that mediated discussion of adverse events and medical errors can lead to improved quality of care. Change will require medical leaders, hospital administrators, and malpractice insurers to temper their suspicion of the tort system sufficiently to approach medical errors and adverse events as learning opportunities, and to retain lawyers who embrace mediation as an opportunity to solve problems, show compassion, and improve care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-828
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Health Politics, Policy and Law
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

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Lawyers
Malpractice
Patient Safety
Medical Errors
Insurance Carriers
Hospital Administrators
Legal Liability
Quality of Health Care
Jurisprudence
Patient Care
Learning
Interviews
Physicians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

Cite this

Interest-based mediation of medical malpractice lawsuits : A route to improved patient safety? / Hyman, Chris Stern; Liebman, Carol B.; Schechter, Clyde B.; Sage, William M.

In: Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 35, No. 5, 10.2010, p. 797-828.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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