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Tort Reform's Impact on Lowering Medical Malpractice Litigation Costs May Be Limited

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 7, 2010

"As the quality and safety movements continue to accelerate, the need to elevate diagnostic errors to their rightful place among safety hazards grows ever more pressing."

In a fourth report in the journal, Marcus Semel, a general surgery resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston urged hospitals to use the World Health Organization's Surgical Safety Checklist to make significant reductions in postoperative complications.

"Using the checklist generates cost savings once it presents at least five major complications...(and) would both save money and improve the quality of care in hospitals."

A fifth article describes the nation's uneven laws governing medical mistake disclosure and apology. However, Anna C. Mastroianni, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and colleagues, says the laws vary greatly in 34 states and the District of Columbia, have major shortcomings.

"These may actually discourage comprehensive disclosures and apologies and weaken the laws' impact on malpractice suits," she wrote.

"Legislation can be ineffective or been counterproductive if it is drafted too narrowly, if healthcare providers overestimate the protection it offers, or if the resulting disclosures or apologies are interpreted by patients as insincere," she wrote.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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