Why AZ Doctors Should Use Mediation to Prevent Malpractice Lawsuits

Good news for doctors and patients: Pennsylvania has determined that the drop in medical malpractice cases is partially attributed to the use of mediation. In a May 22, 2011 article in the Pittsburgh Tribute Review entitled “Malpractice Lawsuits in Pennsylvania Continue to Decline,” Bobby Kerlik reported that Pennsylvania experienced its sixth consecutive annual decline in malpractice lawsuits in 2010. The decline was also attributed to a change in rules that help prevent frivolous lawsuit. However, the result was significant enough for the state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille to assert that “the medical malpractice ‘crisis is over.’” Id.

In linking the decline in part to mediation, Reporter Kerlik quoted attorney Bryan Neft, who serves the civil litigation section of the county bar: “Over the past 10 years, private mediation has definitely increased.”

What exactly is mediation? Mediation is a confidential conference directed by a mediator – a neutral person trained in conflict resolution. The parties either meet in the same room or in different rooms. They get an opportunity to tell their side of the story and listen to the other party’s stories. They also get an opportunity to explore amicable resolutions to avoid a legal action.

What does this mean for doctors, patients and malpractice attorneys in Arizona? Potential parties/lawyers in a malpractice lawsuit should explore mediation prior to filing a lawsuit. By doing so, attorney’s fees and costs are reduced, and privacy is intact. Doctors would prefer that claims remain outside the purview of the public eye, and patients would prefer not to have their medical history become subject to a lawsuit. In addition, both parties benefit from not having the stress and uncertainty of a lawsuit in their lives for years. Because neither side to a lawsuit can ever be assured of success at trial, compromise and an early resolution are often preferred to a potential “win” after a drawn out and expensive court proceeding. Because mediation has such a high success rate, there is little risk in suggesting an early mediation.

Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona@sglawaz.com. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

 

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC

8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

 

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Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E Butherus Dr, Suite #7 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (480) 998-1500