Medical malpractice arbitration, also known as medical negligence arbitration, is a process through which a dispute between a healthcare provider and a patient or the patient’s representatives is resolved. This is done outside of court through the use of a neutral third party called an arbitrator.

In medical malpractice arbitration, the arbitrator reviews the evidence and hears arguments from both sides, and then makes a binding decision on the matter. The arbitration process is usually quicker and less formal than going to court, and it can be a less expensive alternative to litigation.

Medical Malpractice Examples

Medical malpractice refers to situations in which a healthcare professional deviates from the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or harm to a patient.

Some types of medical malpractice may include:

  1. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition, leading to a delay in treatment or incorrect treatment.
  2. Surgical errors, including operating on the wrong body part or leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body.
  3. Medication errors, such as prescribing the incorrect medication or incorrect dosage.
  4. Birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy, caused by medical negligence during delivery.
  5. Anesthesia errors, such as giving too much or too little anesthesia or failing to monitor the patient properly during surgery.
  6. Misreading or ignoring laboratory results or diagnostic imaging, leading to a delay or failure in diagnosis or treatment.
  7. Failing to obtain informed consent before performing a medical procedure.
  8. Physical or sexual abuse by a healthcare professional.

It’s important to note that not all adverse outcomes or injuries sustained during medical treatment are necessarily the result of medical malpractice.

To be considered medical malpractice, the injury or harm must have been caused by a healthcare professional’s deviation from the accepted standard of care.

What Are the Main Steps for Resolving a Medical Malpractice Case by Arbitration?

The steps for resolving a medical malpractice case by arbitration can vary depending on the specific arbitration process being used and the parties involved.

However, in general, the steps might include the following:

  1. The patient or the patient’s representatives file a claim alleging medical malpractice.
  2. The healthcare provider responds to the claim.
  3. The parties agree to use arbitration to resolve the dispute.
  4. The parties select an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators.
  5. The parties exchange relevant documents and information.
  6. The parties participate in a hearing, during which they present their evidence and arguments to the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators.
  7. The arbitrator or panel of arbitrators makes a decision, which is usually final and binding on the parties.

It’s worth noting that the arbitration process can be more informal and less rigid than the court process, and the parties may have some flexibility in terms of how the process is conducted. However, the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators will still need to consider the evidence and arguments presented by both sides and make a fair and unbiased decision.

Are Medical Malpractice Arbitration Agreements Valid?

Medical malpractice arbitration agreements are generally considered to be valid and enforceable under medical malpractice laws in the United States.

However, there are some circumstances in which an arbitration agreement may not be enforced, such as if it was signed under duress or if it is deemed to be unconscionable.

Additionally, some states have laws that regulate or restrict the use of arbitration agreements in medical malpractice cases. It’s important to be aware of any such laws in your state if you are considering entering into an arbitration agreement.

It’s also worth noting that arbitration is a voluntary process, and both parties must agree to use it in order for an arbitration agreement to be valid. If you are asked to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of receiving medical treatment, you have the right to refuse to sign it and to seek legal advice if you have concerns about the agreement.

How Do I Avoid Arbitration?

Mandatory arbitration agreements are agreements that require the parties to resolve any disputes through arbitration rather than through the court system. These agreements are often used in the healthcare industry, and patients may be asked to sign them as a condition of receiving treatment.

If you are concerned about the possibility of being required to resolve a medical malpractice dispute through arbitration, there are a few steps you can take to try to avoid it:

  1. Read all documents carefully: Read any documents you are asked to sign carefully, including any arbitration agreements. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek legal advice if you have concerns about the terms of an agreement.
  2. Negotiate arbitration terms: Consider negotiating the terms of an arbitration agreement before you sign it. For example, you might ask to have the arbitration conducted by a panel of arbitrators rather than a single arbitrator, or you might ask that the arbitration be conducted in a location that is more convenient for you.
  3. Seek other treatment: Consider seeking treatment from a healthcare provider who does not require arbitration as a condition of treatment.
  4. Challenge the agreement: If you are asked to sign an arbitration agreement after you have already received treatment, you may be able to challenge the agreement on the grounds that it was not properly disclosed to you before treatment was provided.

It’s worth noting that in some instances, it may not be possible to completely avoid arbitration. However, taking these steps can help you to better understand the terms of any arbitration agreement you are asked to sign and to ensure that your rights are protected.

What Should I Do After an Arbitration Settlement?

If you have participated in an arbitration and reached a settlement, here are some steps you may want to take:

  1. Review the settlement agreement: Make sure you fully understand the terms of the settlement and what is expected of you. If you have any questions or concerns, you should address them before signing the agreement.
  2. Consider seeking legal advice: Depending on the complexity of the settlement and the issues involved, you may want to consult with a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected and that the settlement is fair and reasonable.
  3. Sign the settlement agreement: If you are satisfied with the terms of the settlement, you should sign the agreement and return it to the other party or the arbitrator.
  4. Follow through with any obligations: If the settlement agreement requires you to take certain actions, such as paying money or transferring property, you should do so as agreed.
  5. Keep a copy of the settlement agreement: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the settlement agreement for your records in case there are any disputes or misunderstandings in the future.
  6. Consider whether to file the settlement agreement: In some cases, it may be necessary or advisable to file the settlement agreement with a court or other relevant authority to make it legally binding. You should consult with a lawyer to determine whether this is necessary in your case.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Medical Malpractice Arbitration Issues?

It is generally a good idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you are involved in a medical malpractice dispute that is being resolved through arbitration. A lawyer can help you to understand your rights and options, and can represent you in the arbitration process.

Having a lawyer can be particularly important if you are not familiar with the arbitration process or if you are not comfortable representing yourself. A lawyer can help you to present your case effectively and can advocate on your behalf to ensure that your interests are protected.

It’s worth noting that, while the arbitration process is usually quicker and less formal than going to court, it is still a legal proceeding, and the decisions made in arbitration can be binding on the parties. Therefore, it can be helpful to have a lawyer to guide you through the process and to ensure that your rights are protected