California Medical Malpractice Attorney, J. Niley Dorit
How does Kaiser's medical malpractice system work?
That's the question we asked J. Niley Dorit, a California medical malpractice attorney who has been representing injured Kaiser Permanente patients for years. He told us that when a Kaiser Permanente patient is injured, instead of filing a lawsuit, what they’re required to do is initiate a written claim and pay a fee directly to Kaiser. That would start the healthcare provider's required private arbitration process. Claims never go through the court system; they go through a private, independent administrator of arbitration claims.
Are Kaiser doctors generally as qualified as non-Kaiser doctors?
Dorit says that the physician population at Kaiser is a little different makeup from the population that you see outside of Kaiser. He explained:
Let me say two things. First of all, there’s a lot of really, really good doctors at Kaiser. There’s no question about that. By the same token, there are a number of doctors at Kaiser who may not have succeeded in the private sector, and in my experience, I am seeing a larger percentage both of foreign-trained and younger doctors at Kaiser.
What should a Kaiser patient do when they're injured?
The first and best thing to do, according to Dorit, is to call an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases, and in particular, Kaiser cases. He says that he would strongly caution injured victims from contacting Kaiser directly. He explained:
[Kaiser] has a program that’s only a couple of years old called the 'Ombudsman Program,' which they say is designed to help address patient complaints about medical care. However, of all of the patients that I’ve ever talked to that went through that program, it simply resulted in a delay with no productive outcome.
How can an attorney help?
Dorit says that the relationship between himself and Kaiser Permanente medical and hospital malpractice victims is identical to the relationship he has with non-Kaiser patients. He told us:
[Patients] are kept fully informed about their claim and about what’s going on – or as informed as they'd like to be. Their degree of participation that would be required is no different from the participation that would be required if it was a court case. It’s actually identical. That participation actually ends up being far, far less than what most people think. In other words, once they come to see me, I make the bulk of the decisions in terms of the legal issues. They’re not required to spend much time on it.