While the number has never been completely quantified, an outrageous amount of current health care costs are directly tied to malpractice insurance and the cost of fighting malpractice cases in court each and every year. While profits, the cost of medical equipment and salaries also help to contribute to the health care crisis in the United States, malpractice costs are the single biggest component keeping health care from being affordable, which is why most hospitals will do almost anything to keep a malpractice case from going to court. There are several options available to the average patient who feels that they have been wronged, so let’s take a look at a few of them.
If you are a fan of the hit television comedy Scrubs, you have probably seen entire episodes dedicated to convincing a patient to take a settlement for their malpractice instead of going to court. It had become such a well known and expected part of the United States medical system that even people who haven’t been admitted to a hospital in decades know how it works. The one thing that most hospitals will try to do is to get you to sign a form agreeing to forgo a trial and accept a settlement deal BEFORE you speak to a lawyer. In that circumstance, the hospital has a major advantage over the patient who is still likely dazed and confused or even still under a degree of anesthesia due to their botched surgery. They know that their settlement is likely much less than what you might be able to earn in court so they are going to try to get you to sign that paper as quickly as possible. They might even threaten that if you don’t sign it now, the offer will be rescinded and you won’t have a second chance to settle early. The truth is you should never be threatened into signing something you don’t understand, ever, as these tactics border on the illegal and are, at the very least, unsavory. If you feel that you have been the victim of malpractice, you should, at the very least, speak with a lawyer to see what your options are. Understand, however, that a settlement is guaranteed money and that a trial will often be long, tedious, expensive, and you might not even win.
Mediation is also an option available to most people who are seeking the end to a malpractice case. Not only is mediation significantly faster than a court trial, but it can be over and done with in a matter of months from the time of the incident, not years. Hospitals will be more likely to agree to mediation than a court case simply because it allows them to be over and done with the incident much faster. As for the patient, mediation is more risky than simply accepting a settlement but the reward can be greater, too. Make sure you speak with your lawyer before you sign anything agreeing to mediation on your malpractice case.