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Can I sue Kaiser for medical malpractice?
You can’t file a traditional court-based lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente if you think you’ve been harmed by the medical negligence of one of the healthcare giant’s professional caregivers. You can still hold Kaiser liable for malpractice and get compensation for any harm suffered, but you need to do it through Kaiser’s unique arbitration procedure for handling these kinds of injury claims.
When you signed up for your Kaiser Permanente health plan (likely through your job), part of the contract you signed included an agreement to submit to arbitration any injury claims arising from the provision of health care; you essentially gave up your right to sue Kaiser in civil court for medical malpractice.
So, how does Kaiser’s arbitration process work? The laws that govern a medical malpractice case are the same in arbitration as they are in any court-based lawsuit. You need to show that a Kaiser health care professional provided you with medical treatment that fell short of the proper medical standard of care, and you were harmed as a result. The proof rules are the same, but the procedure is different.
Kaiser's Office of the Independent Administrator (OIA) will handle your injury claim and the arbitration process. OIA professes to get claims resolved through arbitration within 18 months, a timeline that starts on the date that the injured patient started the claim by sending a demand letter to the OIA
In arbitration, instead of going to court and presenting a case to a judge or jury, the two parties try their case before a neutral third party (the arbitrator), who decides whether there is liability in the case, and if so, what kind of damages (compensation) the injured patient should receive.
The "trial" itself does not involve a judge or jury, only the parties, their attorneys (and their medical expert witnesses) and the neutral arbitrator. Although it is more information, the process still involves a thorough presentation of facts and informed application of law.
by: David Goguen, J.D.
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