We cannot call alternative dispute resolution (ADR) the “new kid on the block” anymore. When I began practicing law in the early 1970s, mediation was a term rarely heard, and usually in the family law context. Arbitration at that time was confined primarily to commercial disputes and court-annexed arbitration with the right to a de novo jury trial for the unhappy litigant. In my 18 years of trial practice before assuming the bench in 1991, I never represented a client in a mediation or a private arbitration.

However, at least by the turn of the 21st century, alternative dispute methods of mediation and arbitration became popular tools of the litigator’s trade. Today, to the delight of those of us practicing alternative dispute resolution as our profession, mediation and private arbitration are used commonly in virtually every type of civil case. Moreover, a fairly recent trend has been to use mediation and arbitration more frequently in medical negligence cases. In fact, some hospital organizations such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Drexel University College of Medicine have incorporated mediation into their risk management and patient safety programs. Arbitration usually presided over by a single arbitrator is becoming more regularly used in cases involving health care providers.

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