When a healthcare provider harms instead of heals, patients who seek answers and redress generally face the prospect of a long and costly lawsuit. But there's another option, one that can significantly reduce the toll of a court battle while providing many of the same benefits to patients and their families: mediation. As politicians discuss tort reform and caps on damage awards, fans of mediation tout its potential to save patients, doctors and hospitals time and money and avoid the courtroom altogether. In mediation, both parties sit down with a trained professional, sometimes a lawyer or a former judge, to discuss what went wrong and seek to work out a settlement. During a session that may last for several hours, lawyers for the opposing parties do the negotiating. But patients or their family members, healthcare providers and insurance representatives may take part as well.