Over the past couple of years, executives at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have found a new way to deal with the threat of malpractice claims. The medical center has developed a formal mediation process which not only settles claims, but does so in creative ways. Of course, UPMC does offer cash to settle some claims, but it has also mounted plaques and named hospital rooms in an aggrieved patient's honor. It's also given patients a chance to discuss their negative experiences with staffers, winning them the direct apology many wanted more than anything else. Not only does the process do more to soothe upset feelings, it also saves money. Associate counsel Richard Kidwell, who developed a similar program for Johns Hopkins, estimates that UPMC saves $50,000 in legal fees every time it can avoid a full-blown court battle. And the number of cases that get settled through the program is significant. Since late 2004, UPMC has mediated 77 cases, and was able to settle 68 of them, Kidwell said.
To get more details on the malpractice mediation program:
- read this piece from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette