According to reports, Massachusetts hospitals are starting an initiative that they hope will cut down on the number of medical malpractice lawsuits by heightening disclosure of medical mistakes and fostering greater doctor-patient trust. This “Road to Reform” initiative appears centered around a sequence of “Disclosure-Apology-Offer.” By more promptly disclosing medical errors, apologizing to the families when needed, and offering to pay for the mistake ASAP-a process that hospitals and the Mass Medical Society hopes will cut down on secrecy, cut back on extensive litigation and thereby lower health care costs. This plan tends to be tested by seven hospitals in Massachusetts, including Beth Israel and Mass General.
One part of the plan to repair disintegrated trust in the health care system is to have hospitals urge patients to hire a lawyer to determine whether the offer is fair-and then can decide whether to sue the hospital for better compensation. While very idealistic, more concrete details of how exactly the system will integrate the test changes remain to be seen. Contact an attorney if you have any questions about medical malpractice lawsuits or are seeking to file one yourself.
Hospitals promise openness, apologies, Boston.com, April 18, 2012
Medical malpractice experiment, NECN.com, April 18, 2012