Kathleen Clark


Bringing Dialogue and Collaborative Law to Health Care

The subject of my dissertation is the use of collaborative law in medical error/mistake situations. Collaborative law is a non-litigation process which seeks to bring compassion, admission of error, when appropriate, conversations, and forgiveness to situations in which medical error or an adverse event has taken place. At the present time, collaborative law in medical error situations has not proven effective due, in part, to fear and mistrust among the stakeholders necessary to the process.

At the present time, I am scheduling and structuring dialogues around the country, the first of which will be held in San Diego this fall, among the necessary stakeholders, including plaintiffs’ medical malpractice attorneys, defense medical malpractice attorneys, risk managers, physicians’ and hospitals’ insurers, ombudspersons, medical ethicists, physicians, and patient advocates. The dialogue is intended to give all stakeholders both the opportunity to talk about what is working in their individual fields and to listen to other stakeholders about their successes and concerns in cases involving medical error. The goals are to create a shift in thinking about the collaborative law process and to begin to create community among the various stakeholders necessary to this process.