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Malpractice Mediation Lacks Physician Participation

HealthLeaders Media Staff, December 22, 2010

But the study found “major challenges” remain for mediation to gain greater acceptance in malpractice suits. Key among them: lack of physician involvement. In none of the cases studied did a doctor take part in the mediation. This, the authors said, “deprives them and their patients of the opportunity for healing, understanding, forgiveness, and repair of broken relationships and failed communication.”

They also noted “[I]t is possible that plaintiffs would have been even more satisfied with the process had their physicians demonstrated respect and caring” by attending the mediation.

So why aren’t physicians participating?

“The reasons given by their lawyers were that the physicians were too busy or they wanted to protect the physicians from verbal attacks by the plaintiff. I suspect there may also be some concern about what the physicians might say during the mediation,” coauthor Chris Stern Hyman said in an interview.

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