Monday, July 28, 2008

The Use of Arbitration Agreements in Health Care

Ryan Brown, a health care attorney at Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso, PLLC who I regularly work with recently put together information on the use of arbitration agreements in the health care setting. More and more these types of agreements are being used as a way to avoid unnecessary litigation and provide an alternative venue to resolve health care conflicts between provider and patient.

Following are some excerpts about the topic from Ryan:
As many health care providers know all too well, disputes can often arise between a patient and a health care provider. Many times, the dispute can result in litigation in which a jury will be given the ultimate responsibility of resolving the conflict. However, courts are not the only venue for resolving these conflicts. An ever increasing number of health care providers, especially long-term care facilities, are looking at arbitration as an alternative to the traditional litigation system.

Health care providers in favor of arbitrating disputes point to benefits such as the ability to select an arbitrator who is an expert in the appropriate field, the ability to keep the dispute private, reduced time frame for resolving disputes, and the finality of the decision. Arbitration advocates also point out that arbitration is less expensive than the traditional litigation system.

Over the last decade, many state courts have upheld arbitration agreements that were signed prior to the patient receiving treatment by a physician, hospital, or nursing home. Additionally, courts have held that these arbitration agreements are enforceable not only to the patient, but also any potential beneficiaries of the patient’s estate.

In order to maintain the enforceability of arbitration agreements, a health care provider should strictly comply with the Federal Arbitration Act, state arbitration statutes, and state contract law. Additionally, health care providers should be mindful to carefully draft arbitration agreements and establish proper procedures for presenting arbitration agreements to patients so that courts do not determine the arbitration agreements to be unenforceable.

Ryan A. Brown concentrates his practice on providing legal counsel to a variety of health care providers in medical professional liability actions. Mr. Brown’s experience in medical malpractice cases includes defending nursing homes, hospitals, physicians, and nurses in all phases of litigation. Apart from his health care litigation practice, Mr. Brown provides legal counsel to health care providers and corporations involved in acquisitions and joint ventures.
Contact Ryan if you are interesting in learning more about the use of arbitration in the health care setting and how to include arbitration provisions and protections in your health care agreements.

No comments: