Imagine going through a surgery only to discover that something went wrong. Instead of leaving healthier, you're leaving the hospital knowing you might need to return for further therapy and surgeries. You're in pain, and you're frustrated. You want to know what happened and have the situation resolved, but you know one of the only things you can do is sue. Fortunately, Oregon created a secondary option.
Oregon has a program in which patients and doctors can go through mediation instead of a lawsuit when medical errors have occurred. The program went into effect in 2014, giving patients and their families a way to work through a claim without having to head to court.
The Early Discussion and Resolution program, as it's known today, has a primary goal of cutting down the number of lawsuits against medical providers. It also aims to help boost the number of medical errors being reported, so hospitals and providers can take steps to improve patient safety.
With the mediation program, it's hoped that patients and providers can openly talk about safety issues and errors that have affected patients. Being able to candidly discuss these errors helps clear up any confusion about what happened, and it can help put families at ease.
Any patient or family member can file a notice if someone dies or is seriously injured due to medical care. This notice then triggers the mediation session between the health care facility and family. If a settlement, apology or other resolution is not reached, the family still has a right to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
Source: Oregon Live, "New Oregon program allows mediation for medical errors instead of suing," Nick Budnick, accessed Feb. 23, 2017