Medical Mediation Panels

gavel and stethoscopeMedical Mediation Panels provide an objective assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a medical malpractice claim. By law, all medical malpractice claims must go through this process before they can proceed to court. Each panel consists of a lawyer, a health care provider, and a layperson. The early neutral evaluation they provide can reduce litigation costs by identifying claims without merit as early as possible and by expediting the resolution of those claims that do have merit.

The Medical Mediation Panels were created by the Legislature in 1986 in an effort to provide "an informal, inexpensive and expedient means for resolving medical malpractice disputes without litigation," Wis. Stat. § 655.42(1). Although referred to in the legislation as "mediation," the work of the panels is more accurately described as "early neutral evaluation."

Contact information

Medical Mediation Panels
Randy Sproule, Director
110 East Main Street, Suite 220
Madison, WI 53703-3356
Ph: (608) 266-7711
Fax: (608) 261-2352

How medical mediation works

As prescribed by the Legislature, medical mediation:

  • is conducted by a panel consisting of an attorney, a health care provider and a lay person
  • is non-binding
  • is mandatory and must be initiated by the claimant
  • must be completed within 90 days after the request for mediation is filed unless all parties agree to an extension
  • is informal, which means no testimony is taken or transcribed and formal discovery is prohibited during the 90-day mediation period
  • is funded entirely through assessments on state health care providers

Medical mediation requests

Requests for mediation may be filed prior to, or within 15 days of, the commencement of a court action. In 1998, 305 requests were filed. They broke down as follows:

  • 190 (62 percent) of requests were filed prior to the commencement of a court action
  • 105 (38 percent) of requests were filed in conjunction with a court action
  • 45 (14.7 percent) of the filings were by pro se litigants (people not represented by attorneys)

Case settlements

From 1986 to 1994, in cases where the request for mediation was filed prior to the commencement of a court action:

  • In 9.2 percent of the cases, settlement was a direct result of the mediation
  • In 42.8 percent of the cases, there was neither a settlement nor a filing in circuit court by the time the statute of limitations had expired
  • In 19.4 percent of the cases, the parties in circuit court indicated that early neutral evaluation served a constructive purpose
  • In 28.6 percent of the cases, mediation was perceived as having served no constructive purpose

From 1986 to 1995, in cases where the request for mediation was filed in conjunction with a court action:

  • In 3.5 percent of the cases, settlement occurred as a direct result of the mediation
  • In 41.8 percent of the cases, the parties indicated that early neutral evaluation served a constructive purpose
  • In 54.7 percent of the cases, mediation was perceived as serving no constructive purpose

In cases where the claimant sought $25,000 or less (regardless of whether the request for mediation was filed prior to, or in conjunction with, a court action), the results are as follows:

  • As a direct result of mediation, in 24 percent of the cases settlement was reached at, or shortly after, the session
  • In 49 percent of the cases, there was neither a settlement nor a filing in circuit court by the time the statute of limitations had expired
  • In 11 percent of the cases, action was brought in circuit court, but early neutral evaluation was perceived as having served a constructive purpose
  • In 16 percent of the cases, parties indicated that mediation served no constructive purpose