Medical liability reform: Is alternative dispute resolution the answer?

By David H. Sohn, JD, MD, and S. Jay Jayasankar, MD

The AAOS Position Statement on Medical Liability Reform outlines the challenges of the current medical liability system, and sets forth principles for reform, introducing them by stating, “The AAOS believes that broad reforms are necessary to compensate negligently injured patients promptly and equitably, enhance patient–physician communication, facilitate improvement of patient safety and quality of care, reduce defensive medicine and wasteful spending, decrease liability costs, and improve patient access to care.”

The statement calls for the development of “more equitable and less adversarial mechanisms for dispute resolution.” Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to any of a variety of nonlitigious means of resolving conflict. Common examples include mediation, arbitration, and early offers to compensate for losses.

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