South Africa has seen a steep increase in litigation, where billions of Rand needs to payed out to claimants. In the public sector these payments come from the resources budget, creating a vicious circle and a serious problem. Mediation could be a possible solution to address these matters.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution with many benefits. Among others it saves tremendous cost compared to litigation. Furthermore, settlement can be reached much quicker whereas litigation takes years which results in those involved being subjected to tremendous levels of stress and uncertainty. By following the Mediation route parents of children with Cerebral Palsy can get treatment for their children much earlier. Moreover, Mediation is focused on restoring trust and relationships between the parties involved.
You may wonder why I bring up Mediation, but in our NICU environment medical errors or unforeseen complications may occur. During those times one probably are worried about future litigation. It is those cases that can be settled quickly though Mediation. Sometimes parents just want to understand what happened. They do not necessarily want a big settlement. Mediators facilitate the communication between the two parties in dispute and create a confidential and non-prejudice environment where both parties can come up with amicable solutions for their dispute. A win-win situation.
However, at this moment some matters had been Mediated successfully, but it is still a new concept and implementation of it will take some time.
Below are a few links to some articles:
Mediation could ease SA’s medico-legal woes but it’s no quick fix
Mediation – an alternative to litigation in medical malpractice http://www.samj.org.za/index.php/samj/article/view/8851/6360
Understanding the medico-legal landscape in South Africa