Disclosing Medical Mistakes May Reduce Malpractice CostsJuly 31, 2017
When a patient has been injured or has passed away as a result of a medical mistake, the standard operating procedure that doctors have followed has been to deny any wrongdoing and defend their care. For the patients who suspect negligence, and pursue a medical malpractice case, it can be a long, stressful, and emotional process. Oftentimes, they are forced to relive the ordeal, while the hospital and doctors refuse to take any responsibility. However, new research suggests that when doctors admit their mistake, offer an apology and fair compensation to the injured patient, fewer patients file medical malpractice lawsuits, saving millions of dollars in litigation costs.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is promoting a program called CANDOR, an acronym for Communication and Optimal Resolution, which was tested in 14 hospitals across the country. The approach was modeled on a long-standing program pioneered by researchers at the University of Michigan. In each of the 14 hospitals, there is a prompt investigation into the incident, the findings of which are shared with the victim. The patient also receives an apology and monetary compensation for the injuries. While many feared that this new approach would encourage patients to file lawsuits, this proved to be far from the truth. In Michigan, there were almost 50 percent fewer lawsuits, saving the hospital system close to $2 million dollars in litigations costs.
According to Richard C. Boothman, the University of Michigan Health System’s executive director of clinical safety and chief risk operator, the point of the program is to drive patient safety, not to drop malpractice costs. Patient safety experts need to open the lines of communication with risk managers who handle malpractice claims in order to prevent valuable information from being lost. Boothman also said that honesty needs to be normalized in order to create a more productive culture aimed at making continuous improvements.
When Doing the Right Thing is the Right Thing to Do
Steven Kraman, chief of staff at the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kentucky, was new to the hospital when he had to handle the passing of a middle-aged female patient, which was caused by an overdose of potassium. Rather than denying responsibility, he explained exactly what happened to the woman’s two surviving daughters. He admitted the hospital’s mistake, and the hospital negotiated a settlement with their lawyer. All future cases involving medical errors were handled in a similar manner.
Opponents of this approach question whether hospitals may only use disclosures as a way to pick small, unwinnable cases. Some insurers are not convinced that the benefits of the approach outweigh the risks. Joanne Doroshow, director of the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, is concerned that disclosure programs may take advantage of patients that do not have legal representation. She commented that as long as the hospital is in control, they will try to limit compensation to patients.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to negligence or a medical error on the part of a physician or hospital, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer immediately to review all of your legal options.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Medical Negligence
If you have been injured during a medical procedure and you believe you are the victim of medical negligence, you are urged to contact the dedicated and compassionate Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Our experienced legal team will determine the best course of action based on the details of your case. We will hold the negligent parties responsible for your injury, protecting your rights along the way. We will seek the maximum financial compensation you and your family deserve. For a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
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