Potential Dangers of Arbitration Agreements

Vesna Jaksic has an interesting article on Law.com on potential problems with binding arbitration agreements between doctors and patients, wherein patients sign away their right to a jury trial.

From the article:

Binding arbitration agreements between doctors and patients — in which patients waive their right to a jury trial — are becoming more common, a trend that could put patients at a disadvantage if medical malpractice disputes surface, attorneys warn.

A growing number of physicians, nursing homes and health care institutions are asking consumers to sign these agreements before offering services, said Stuart Ratzan of Miami’s Ratzan & Rubio.

Some states have passed or are trying to pass legislation that would limit how these agreements are used. For instance, an act waiting for congressional approval in Washington D.C. would require (among other things) that the costs associated with arbitration be disclosed in the arbitration agreement. This is important because the patient must pay for arbitrators to do their job, whereas they do not have to pay for judges and juries.

It would be particularly disturbing if these agreements became common enough that people cannot get medical care without signing one.

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