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At this moment in history, tort reform and new approaches to resolving medical malpractice claims are part of the national debate about how to improve health care. Federal funding is available for pilot projects to test new approaches to medical malpractice litigation. There is increased pressure from health care regulators to disclose adverse events and communicate better with patients and their families. These all present opportunities to increase the use of mediation, particularly to address medical malpractice lawsuits and to improve patient safety.

For the past seven years, we have been studying ways in which mediation and mediation skills can resolve health care disputes in a way that enhances patient safety and quality of care. We have discovered that conventional ways of thinking, unjustified fear, and institutional and professional culture are all barriers to realizing the full benefit of mediation. Hospital leaders and lawyers need to rethink conventional ways of responding when a patient is harmed by medical care. In particular, attention should be given to ways to bring not only lawyers but also patients, family members, and especially physicians to the mediation table. As the use of mediation in health care increases mediators have a special opportunity, and therefore a responsibility, to educate participants about the full range of benefits available through mediation and to encourage participants to think about how what they earn during mediation can contribute to patient safety.


Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Law | Medical Jurisprudence


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