New Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Law Gives Patients New Settlement Options

A new state law mandates that people who intend to file a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuit give healthcare providers at least six months notice before submitting their complaint. Potential defendants then have 150 days to address the matter. The law also stipulates that medical providers notify patients if there were medical errors that caused unexpected complications and gives doctors a chance to apologize without fear that their admission of error will be used against them in court.

The new legislation is part of increased efforts at non-traditional types of medical liability reform in the U.S., with programs involving resolution and communication growing in popularity. Advocates are pressing for medical providers to step forward, acknowledge responsibility, and offer settlements. In Massachusetts, a number of Beth Israel Deaconess hospitals and Bay State facilities are taking part in a pilot program implementing the Communication, Apology, and Resolution (CARe) model.

In one example of how this type of program can work, NPR recounts, a doctor of a woman who received a delayed diagnosis of her stage 3 ovarian cancer not only explained to her why the mistake happened but apologized for it. A medical team had determined that she should get a pelvic ultrasound but the recommendation was pushed to the wayside for months.

Earlier diagnosis with cancer can improve a patient’s prognosis and prevent the need for more invasive care. It can also stop the cancer from advancing further.

The woman eventually accepted a financial settlement from the hospital. Overall, the process took much less time than if the parties involved had gone to court.

In Massachusetts, please contact our Boston medical malpractice lawyers if you think that a medical mistake or negligence caused or failed to prevent your health issue or personal injury from happening. Altman & Altman represents clients in recovering the compensation that they are owed by liable parties through mediation and litigation.

Malpractice Changes In Massachusetts Offer Injured Patients New Options, NPR, January 20, 2015

MA 2012 Payment Reform Legislation (Ch 224) – Key Liability Provisions (PDF)

Massachusetts Alliance for Communication and Resolution following Medical Injury

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