American Arbitration Association (AAA) Breaks Promise Not to Arbitrate Medical Disputes

When consumers arbitrate disputes, we’ve learned that arbitrators hold enormous power. Arbitration decisions do not have to be based on the law that would apply in a court case. Arbitration can be enormously expensive. And there is seldom any ground for a court to review an arbitration decision, even if it is clearly and demonstrably wrong.

For these and other reasons, our law firm rarely handles arbitration claims. We feel that the court system, with its checks and balances and avenues of appeal, is the fairest and best way to handle legal disputes.

But, we have just learned that many consumers may be subjecting themselves to binding arbitration without realizing it. In a new article, attorney Paul Bland reveals how the AAA, the country’s best-known arbitration organization, has broken its promise not to arbitrate medical disputes. Paul is a tireless and outspoken foe of the arbitration process and an expert on why arbitration is harmful to consumers.

Why is AAA’s decision important to consumers? According to the article, AAA had promised over the years to stay away from arbitrating disputes by medical patients against health care institutions. Previously it had recognized that the court system was the fairest way to resolve these disputes. But recently at least one hospital has begun to insert AAA agreements to arbitrate in the papers patients are required to sign before surgery. AAA’s spokesperson insists that no one has to agree to arbitrate before they can have surgery. But we can imagine that the vast majority of patients who sign these agreements have no idea what they have agreed to.

If you are faced with such an agreement before having surgery, our advice is not to sign it. Heaven forbid, if you ever need to pursue a health care provider, you’re better off in court.


  • 4104 24th Street
    San Fransisco, CA 94114
  • (415) 321-9655