Medical Malpractice:

Alternatives to Litigation

HRD-92-28: Published: Jan 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 10, 1992.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed voluntary arbitration programs and other alternatives for resolving medical malpractice claims.

GAO found that: (1) 15 states have specific statutes on medical malpractice arbitration, but only Michigan makes patients aware of the arbitration option and established a program to implement its statutory requirements; (2) in those 15 states, arbitration appears to be seldom used; (3) Virginia and Florida enacted statutes authorizing no-fault programs to resolve birth-related neurological injury claims; (4) Virginia and Florida officials believe that the reasons the claims volume has been so include the long filling time and the small size of the targeted population; (5) as a condition of enrollment, two health maintenance organizations (HMO) mandate the use of arbitration to resolve malpractice claims; (6) HMO officials stated that mandatory arbitration has been successful, since it results in faster claims resolution, lower defense costs, and more predictable and equitable decisions; and (7) Maine has initiated a demonstration project to establish standards of care in four medical specialties, which gives physicians immunity from litigation if they follow the standards.