judge directed malpractice mediation potential fix

Though medical malpractice reform is essentially a Republican talking point, President Obama has acknowledged the need for some change in the how the system operates. Rather than focusing on the question patient compensation limits, the president has cast a wide net, seeking ways to ensure that hospital errors do not happen or that more patients can be compensated, but in a way that is easier on hospitals.

To that effect, the Obama administration has doled out more than $20 million in federal grants to 20 recipients around the country. The money will go towards supporting efforts to find a solution to the current issues facing patients and hospitals.

One of the 20 recipients is the New York Court system, and a long-time judge with a special interest in medical malpractice cases.

Senior Appellate Judge Douglas McKeon has spent years presiding over medical malpractice cases and his nationally recognized as a specialist in resolving them. His approach is rather simple but, thus far has been effective. McKeon’s “judge-directed negotiations” are more mediation than trial, with the judge quietly listening to injured patients and families who have lost loved ones.

Then, with both sides present, McKeon attempts to find an accord – a reasonable solution to a difficult case. The hospitals save money, but not at the expense of the plaintiff, who often receives a fair amount without going through a lengthy malpractice trial.

Even so, the place for medical malpractice lawsuits and court battles still exists. While McKeon’s initiative may very well go a long way towards ensuring more patients are compensated, in some cases, there is no option but to go to court.

To be sure, there is room for variety in the way medical malpractice cases are resolved, but there will likely never be one solution that fits all cases.

Related Resource

  • Judge’s innovation may offer malpractice fix (Associated Press)

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