Hospitals Experiment with Alternatives to Litigation in Malpractice Cases

Posted By Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC || 23-Jan-2015

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

  1. Lawsuits aren't hasty – By establishing a six-month waiting period before a suit can be filed, this present filing hasty lawsuits.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 litigation.
  4. 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.