PA doctors, lawyers cooperate on med mal project

Here's a case where strange bedfellows seem to be making good law. Doctors in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County have begun working together on a pilot project that they're hoping will keep malpractice cases out of court. Sponsors of the project, which include the county's bar association, medical society and Abington Memorial Hospital, hope mediation will save money for everyone involved.

The pilot, which has been in the works for three years, pulls together teams of lawyers and doctors who will work to mediate conflicts between patients and their providers. The idea is to resolve problems more quickly, and gently, than what happens in malpractice trials. The doctors get special mediation training, which includes play acting, before they get involved with real cases. The process moves patients and families through two steps. First, doctors and nurses meet with patients to explain what happened medically. If that doesn't satisfy the aggrieved party, patients or families can move to mediation, in which the two can pull together a settlement. Patients still can go to court if they can't settle through mediation.

To learn more about the program:
- read this Philadelphia Inquirer article

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