Resolving Medical Malpractice Cases with Judge-Directed Negotiation: Upstate Expansion
Expanding Health Care Coverage
May 31, 2011
The existing system for medical liability litigation increases the cost of providing effective, quality health care in New York State.
Litigation affects care and costs by raising medical malpractice premiums, encouraging the use of defensive medicine, and decreasing patient access to care. To address medical malpractice litigation, the Court Assisted Mediation model has been developed by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). Under this system, each county’s State Superior Court assigns a judge to monitor HHC cases and sets aside one day a month for a conference where parties can discuss their claims and settle them in that meeting or as early as possible. New York State policymakers seized on the promise of this model and sought a Federal grant to expand the reach of the model. Subsequently, the Federal government awarded the New York State Unified Court System $3 million to implement the HHC court-assisted mediation model. The New York Health Foundation awarded the New York State Unified Court System a grant to replicate the court-assisted mediation piece of the Federal grant in Erie County, which has the largest upstate concentration of medical malpractice cases.
Under this grant, the New York State Unified Court System held a one-day symposium to provide information about the court-assisted mediation model to the local plaintiff and defendant bar; implemented court-assisted mediation over a two-year period that identified judges with characteristics amenable to participating in the project and engaged an attorney/registered nurse who researched legal and clinical issues raised in initial case filings; and evaluated the success of the project in terms of the number of cases resolved, length of time to resolution, and award amounts.