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Hamline Issues Recommendations for Resolving Conflicts in the Health Care System

Hamline University School of Law has released a report, "Guiding Principles for Creation of Dispute Resolution Systems in Health Care," which is available in PDF and hard copy. The report is the outcome of a November 2007 Hamline Law Sym07title_onlySchool sponsored symposium, "An Intentional Conversation about Conflict Resolution in the Health Care," which brought together leading health care providers, payors, regulators, recognized patient representatives, attorneys and experienced conflict resolution professionals and scholars.

Among the symposium participants was Deb Gerardi, Chair, Program on Collaboration and Conflict Resolution in Healthcare, Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Creighton University School of Law, who noted, "The Hamline symposium provided an important opportunity for a national dialogue among scholars and professionals who are interested in improving how complex health care conflicts are addressed."

Barbara Balik, Director at Large, Board of Governors, National Patient Safety Foundation, also participated. She said, "The symposium was a unique opportunity to bring together scholars and professionals. The guiding principles offer a patient-centered approach to resolving the conflicts that arise in health care settings."

The report provides a thorough summary of the symposium dialogue, along with eight specific recommendations for the creation of patient-centered dispute resolution systems. The report states that a Dispute Resolution System in Health Care must be one that:

  • Centers on the patient
  • Recognizes and addresses disputes within the health care team
  • Places individual conflicts in the broader health care picture
  • Promotes communications skills and professionalism
  • Exudes transparency
  • Encourages timely truth telling and acceptance of responsibility
  • Focuses on "how did this happen" rather than "who did it"
  • Recognizes the centrality of emotion

"As the human and financial costs of resolving conflicts in health care continues to grow, more people are coming to the realization that there has to be a better way of ensuring just and responsible conflict resolution that doesn't cripple the health care system," said Hamline Dispute Resolution Institute Director and Professor of Law James Coben. "The guiding principles in this report represent a critical step toward building consensus in the health care industry about the need for patient-centered dispute resolution systems that can accomplish these objectives."

"Disputes between physician and nurse; doctor and patient; insurance company and enrollee all damage health care outcomes if not well handled," added Hamline Health Law Institute Director and Professor of Law Lucinda Jesson. "The recommendations in this report represent the best thinking of today's leaders on how to create fair resolution systems in this unique industry."

Hard copies of "Guiding Principles for Creation of Dispute Resolution Systems in Health Care" may be requested by contacting Hamline Health Law Institute Assistant Director Marcia K. Miller at 651-523-2625 or