On the surface, arbitration appears to be a perfect solution for the dentist as well as the patient. It can be less expensive than litigation and typically moves expeditiously. However, arbitration does have its drawbacks.
First, having a patient sign an arbitration agreement binds you and the patient to abide by that agreement, even if the problem could be resolved in another manner. There is no option of appealing the decision.
Second, in arbitration only two to three arbitrators, as opposed to a 12-member jury panel of your peers, hear your case. Additionally, arbitrators who often hear similar cases may have preconceived notions regarding dentistry, which may affect how they evaluate your case.
Finally, consider the impact of asking your patients to sign such an agreement. Often patients view signing an agreement prior to treatment as a pre-admission of substandard care. Some will perceive it as your attempt to strip them of their legal rights, should something go wrong with treatment.