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Arbitration in Healthcare

Healthcare arbitration agreements are increasingly common in Florida, as they are across the country. In fact, they are popular across a number of industries in which malpractice or other legal complaints can be frequent, frivolous, and cost-prohibitive to the business providing the service.

Should you include a medical arbitration agreement form in the stack of paperwork that you give to new patients?

What Is an Arbitration Agreement in Health Care?

Simply, an arbitration agreement in the context of health care provision is an agreement that a patient would sign stating that before they would bring any alleged malpractice or legal claims to court, they would first agree to sit down to arbitration, the results of which would be binding to all parties.

Arbitration generally includes the patient (or the plaintiff) and the health care organization or medical profiler (also the defendant) as well as a neutral third party. The three parties work together to share information and come up with an equitable solution. Because of the arbitration agreement, that solution would be binding to all involved.

Why Would an Arbitration Agreement Be Good for a Medical Provider or Healthcare Organization?

Medical malpractice suits are a woeful reality in the healthcare industry, and many medical personnel and healthcare organizations suffer financially when patients bring frivolous and/or unfounded lawsuits in the hopes of a quick payout.

The truth is that it is often cheaper to write a check to end litigation even if there is little to no cause than it is to fight it out in court. Because few medical providers want to go through the bitter experience of paying money when there is no actual medical malpractice, many are starting to require that all patients sign an arbitration agreement in advance of care.

Do Arbitration Agreements Remove the Risk of Medical Malpractice Court Cases?

No. Nothing is bulletproof when it comes to contracts. While an arbitration agreement may be able to stop most potential medical malpractice claims before they go to court, protecting all participants’ privacy in the process, there is still the possibility of the issue going to court.

This may happen if:

  • There is an ongoing and legitimate issue or a class-action case that cannot be fully addressed in arbitration, AND
  • The agreed upon solution in arbitration is not fair or equitable to the patient OR
  • An agreement cannot be reached during the course of arbitration despite best efforts.

The case may or may not be thrown out of court based on the arbitration agreement, but it doesn’t necessarily stop someone from trying to take the case to the next level.

Should I Include an Arbitration Agreement in My Required Forms?

An arbitration agreement is always a good idea, but like all contracts, it is only as strong as its wording and scope. Contact Florida Healthcare Law Firm today to set up a consultation and create a strong medical malpractice arbitration agreement that is right for your business and your needs.