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Medical Error Disclosure Program Found to Reduce Lawsuits

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 18, 2010

"It's like a disclosure that happens around a plane crash, or something else that we might see on the news...you share what you know, and promise to continue to investigate," she says.

Another issue being debated within hospitals is for providers to make sure the people who are being informed about a medical error involving a patient are people the patient agreed should have access to that medical information, she says.

The Michigan authors of this report say their disclosure with offer program addressed other problems within the legal system.

"Two frequent criticisms levied on the tort liability system are that only a small proportion of patients are ever compensated for negligent injury and that the time to obtaining compensation is excessively long.

"Our finding that time to claim resolution was shorter with the disclosure program suggests that the program seems to address the latter criticism. Quicker resolution can be important especially for patients sustaining disabling injuries."

The program also reduced malpractice administrative expenses. "After implementation, mean legal expenses for UMHS decreased by about 61%," and while that was partially offset by the increase in the risk management budget needed to "more proactively" address claims internally, much of the spending went toward efforts to improve patient safety rather than administering the disclosure program, the authors wrote.

Asked for a comment on the report, Ray De Lorenzi, spokesman for the American Association for Justice, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, says:

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