Expanding Health Care Coverage

Grantee Name

Common Good

Funding Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Publication Date

June 2012

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

August 2009 – April 2011


The existing system for medical liability litigation increases the cost of providing effective, quality health care in New York State and the nation.

Litigation affects care and costs by encouraging the practice of defensive medicine, and decreases patient access to care, especially in obstetrics. Most patients who suffer an injury during the course of medical care are not compensated, and only a small proportion of injured patients choose to file a claim. For those patients who are injured and do file a claim, the length of time until the claim is resolved averages five years. When patient claims are successful, more than half of the dollars paid are consumed by overhead costs.

With support from NYHealth, Common Good identified and tested alternative approaches to litigation, particularly those that would not require State legislation, such as arbitration.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Conducted legal analysis of the feasibility of implementing an arbitration-based dispute resolution system, including whether legislation or regulatory actions would be required.
  • Secured hospital partners to design the structure of the arbitration system, including protocols for patient and provider participation.
  • Developed patient enrollment materials, including patient consent forms.
  • Developed guidance on implementation and an evaluation of a pilot.
  • Found that signed consent forms to the arbitration process are likely to be upheld when challenged.