Hospitals are beginning to experiment with alternative resolutions to malpractice
claims, which could lead to more favorable results to patients in less time.
Medical malpractice litigation is notoriously long and labor-intensive, primarily because
it is so contentious, but a recently enacted state law aims to solve that.
Massachusetts recently signed a bill into law that they hope will be mutually
beneficial for patients and hospitals.
The law fosters open communication and provides a forum for discussions
between patients, their doctors, and hospitals.
The law works like this –
- Patient suffers harm due to a suspected medical error
- If the patient intends to sue, they must give their hospital six months' notice
- Hospital has 150 days to respond
- Meeting is arranged between patient and physician
- If the hospital determines the standard of care was not met, they offer
an apology and settlement
What is so unique about this type of resolution is the apology aspect.
Last November, NPR reported on a Johns Hopkins study which revealed how rare it is for victims of
medical malpractice to receive an apology, because it is an admission
of guilt and can harm the hospital's reputation.
Tort Reform for Medical Malpractice
Historically, tort reform for medical malpractice has focused on establishing
caps for the amount of compensation plaintiffs can recover. But this has
arguably done little to actually reform medical malpractice litigation.
Back in 2010, President Obama set aside $23 million so that hospitals
throughout the United States can experiment with these new alternative
dispute resolution methods.
Benefits of Alternative Resolutions
Lawsuits aren't hasty – By establishing a six-month waiting period before a suit can be
filed, this present filing hasty lawsuits.
Forces hospitals to own up to their mistakes – The Massachusetts law requires hospitals to admit when medical
negligence has caused harm to a patient. Many hospitals are afraid of
apologizing, as the NPR report explained, because they don't want
something they say to be used against them in court.
Medical disputes are resolved quicker – One documented medical malpractice case in Massachusetts was resolved
in about a year's time, much faster than traditional medical malpractice
Mitigates future mistakes – When hospitals and physicians own up to their mistakes, they are
able to openly deal with the problem and take steps to ensure the same
mistakes don't happen again.
Communicate and resolve – that's the battle cry of the alternative
resolution movement. If you or someone you love was harmed by medical
negligence, Paulson Coletti may be able to help you. These cases are complex
and are best handled by attorneys experienced in dealing with them.
Attorney Chuck Paulson was voted medical malpractice "Lawyer of the
Year" and our firm has been chosen for the list of "Best Law
Firm" by U.S. News in this area of practice as well. We know how
to handle these cases professionally to arrive at the most optimal outcomes
for clients. To learn more, contact Paulson Coletti today.