The job of a medical professional is to provide care for their patient. There is inherently a layer of trust between a patient and their provider. The patient entrusts their health, safety and, sometimes, their life to the skills and diligence of their doctor. Therefore, when that trust is betrayed through what appears to be negligence or abuse, the experience can be very emotional for the patient.
On the other side of the matter, the doctor may very well have thought that they did the best they possibly could under the circumstances. They may have no idea that their patient is even feeling the way that they are. Given the chance to explain themselves, they may be able to offer sound explanations or express their compassion.
Surprise legal attacks, however, are a very quick way to send people into defensive mode and prevent those steps from ever taking place. Confronting the issues on strictly legal fields immediately places both the patient and the provider in adversarial roles, and both parties are likely advised to refrain from speaking to the other directly. This makes it all too easy to dehumanize the opposition and view them as a simple legal obstacle instead of a person with feelings and motivations.
The sad result is that the litigation process discourages direct communication on issues that may very well benefit from it. It places everyone in positions where they are forced to attack and defend. No one talks; they testify.
Mediation, on the other hand, offers the opposite experience. No one is forced to testify but can tell their story and be heard. The mediator works to create a space where both the provider and patient are encouraged to calmly explain themselves and help the other side to understand their suffering.
Given the wide range of medical fields, the complexity of the procedures, and the varying circumstances around them, mediation is not going to be a cure-all for every type of doctor/patient dispute. Some cases truly end up just being an instance of negligence or abuse on the doctor’s side, or an attempt to squeeze undeserved money out of the provider’s insurance company. No amount of talking is going to satisfy both parties in cases like those.
However, there are many cases where a chance to explain, understand, and empathize will be of great benefit to all involved. It proves most valuable when both of the parties genuinely want to settle the claim fairly and justly. But even if it does not fully prevent a case from going to trial, mediation in medical malpractice cases can still make the process less stressful and adversarial for all involved.
If you feel that you have a medical malpractice case that could benefit from mediation, contact us today to discuss the first steps.