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What is Medical Arbitration?

Monday, May, 9, 2011


In medical arbitration, a doctor and a patient seek a resolution of a dispute arising from treatment decisions or their aftermath.  In general, medical arbitration is an attempt to avoid a lawsuit, which tends to be more costly and time-consuming for both sides.  In arbitration, an arbitration attorney hears the two sides of the case and issues a decision.  Normally, this decision is binding, which means that it is final, with no appeals possible.

 

Also known as medical malpractice arbitration, this form of dispute resolution remains completely private.  In this, it differs greatly from a court case.  Everything said and discovered in a lawsuit becomes part of the public record, which means that patients lose the confidentiality they normally enjoy with their doctors.  This facet of arbitration is highly significant; in many cases, medical information reveals a great deal about the private behavior of an individual.  Information about a patient's sexual history or use of illegal drugs may enter the public record if a case goes to trial, but arbitration will prevent this from happening.

 

Medical Arbitration: Drawbacks to Confidentiality

 

On the other hand, this very privacy is sometimes cited as a drawback of arbitration.  By opening up a doctor's record to public scrutiny, court cases can provide the community with valuable and necessary information about his competence or standard of care.  The confidentiality rules that dominate arbitration proceedings, however, restrict the public's ability to know about a given doctor's track record with patients.