Hospitals Referring Patients to Malpractice Attorneys: Conflict of Interest?

Some hospitals refer patients and families to malpractice attorneys — an arrangement some experts find to be an inherent conflict of interest, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

The attorneys recommended by hospitals often provide representation at reduced rates and settle claims more quickly so patients and families can avoid a lengthy litigation process. Malpractice suits typically take three to five years to work through the courts, according to the report.

Still, some experts feel lawyers on the hospitals' short-list may skew deals in favor of the hospitals rather than fight for the best settlement for the patient. But reactions are mixed. In the Baltimore Sun article, some lawyers were shocked at the idea that Maryland hospitals refer patients to malpractice attorneys, while others weren't fazed at all.

MedStar Health, a hospital system based in Columbia, Md., refers patients and families to attorneys. In a statement, the system said "malpractice litigation is an expensive, painful and time-consuming process for both the patient and the providers," according to the report. The statement continued: "To this end, we have identified a small number of very seasoned, highly-respected lawyers in the community who have impeccable reputations for being fair and honest" and are also willing to work for reduced rates, according to the report.

Related Articles on Hospitals and Malpractice Claims:

93% of Florida Physicians Support Legislation to Replace Current Medical Malpractice System
Emergency Physicians Lobby for Bill That Would Protect Against Malpractice Suits
Florida Lawmakers Propose Malpractice Reform Legislation Modeled After Workers Comp

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