A lady from a countryside village felt that she was the subject of medical negligence. She approached a lawyer in the “big city”. Some six month after the procedure was performed, the medical practitioner was served papers for a claim of R 2 mil for negligence. He was insured and handed the claim to his insurer who decided to oppose the case.
Some 18 month later the case was heard in the high court. The judge finds the medical practitioner guilty and was ordered to pay R 1 mil.
The insurance company was not happy and took the matter on appeal. Some two years later the matter was heard in the appeal court. A bench of five judges found that the medical practitioner was not guilty of negligence due to some underlying problems the patient had not disclosed prior to the procedure being performed.
This claim of negligence has caused the following serious problems:
The claimant was faced with a huge legal bill that she had to pay.
The reputation of the medical practitioner was dented (it took some 4 years of legal processes before his name was cleared).
Had the matter been referred for mediation, the matter could have been finalized within weeks rather than 4 years. The medical practitioner could have offered the patient a second opinion free of charge and if further surgery were required, it would have been at his expense.
Mediation is a confidential process thus preventing the matter going public. The reputation of the medical practitioner would not have been negatively affected.
Mediation is thus a win – win situation, a situation we all need to strive towards when in dispute with another party.