When Is Mediation Right for Medical Malpractice?
Patients and doctors both should have a clear idea of what is medical malpractice. When a patient suffers an injury or illness because of the doctor’s negligence in diagnosis or treatment, it could be a case of medical malpractice.
However, a doctor may not be aware they committed an act of negligence, and they may only find out when a patient files a claim of medical malpractice against them. The patient may believe that their suffering stemmed from the carelessness of the doctor, while the doctor may feel that the patient, with whom they shared a relationship of trust, is being unfair or unreasonable by turning against them. With all these complexities, let’s outline when medical malpractice may require mediation.
Medical Malpractice Claims
If the doctor does not have adequate medical malpractice insurance coverage, they could face potentially significant financial liability. Talking directly to the patient could allow the doctor to explain their side.
Once a patient files a claim for medical malpractice, both the doctor and the patient are almost invariably drawn into an adversarial system where legal claims require a legal defense. Both parties will receive advice from their insurers and lawyers to not speak directly to each other while the claim is pending. The litigation process by design does not encourage communication except through lawyers, and both the patient and the doctor would communicate only in the form of interrogatories or depositions or testify at a hearing instead of talking.
Medical Malpractice and Mediation
Medical mediation uses a reverse approach, where no one testifies, and everyone talks.
A professional mediator will facilitate this process by seeking to create a space where both the patient and doctor have an opportunity to articulate their reservations and, more importantly, listen to one another.
Medical malpractice mediation is a far more humane and potentially more effective way to resolve a claim compared to a trial because the process encourages constructive communication between the doctor and the patient. Both parties get the opportunity to acquaint the other with their side of the story.
The medical mediation process allows both parties to try and understand the other’s perspective and present their fair estimate of what a trial outcome is likely to be. The mediator will play a vital role by asking pertinent questions and providing relevant information so that both sides can appreciate the risks of a trial. Negotiation becomes more meaningful when both the doctor and patient can have a realistic assessment of the trial risks and evaluate whether it is worth arriving at a mutually agreeable claim settlement.
Confidentiality Benefits Both Parties
In medical malpractice mediation cases, both sides have the advantage of preserving their privacy to a significant extent. For a medical practitioner, confidentiality is often a strategic way of protecting their professional reputation. For a patient, confidentiality is valuable, as their medical issues do not become publicly accessible. Several key aspects of the matter will remain away from newspapers in the medical mediation process.
Call Shapiro Mediation Services for a Free Consultation
Are you facing a medical malpractice lawsuit, but you want to engage in mediation first? Contact Shapiro Mediation Services today to learn more about the mediation process. Call us at (339) 298-7733 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our mediators at our Massachusetts or South Florida office.