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Streamlined Medical Malpractice Resolution Gains Traction in Other States

3 comments

In Michigan, medical malpractice claims can be lengthy, burdensome, and expensive.  Injured survivors and their families often have to wait years for a resolution, and the process leaves them feeling like their complaints go unheard.  That may change, however, if a model being piloted in Massachusetts catches on.

Emphasis on Cooperation, Improvement

The pilot program focuses on a prompt response to instances of medical malpractice.  The approach is known as “CARe” – Communication, Apology, and Resolution.  The hope is that medical providers will honestly discuss treatment errors with patients.  In turn, statements of sympathy or apologies won’t be used against them in a lawsuit.  In the end, compensation for legitimate claims can hopefully be agreed upon and onerous court proceedings avoided.

Originated in Michigan

Although the concerted pilot effort is making news in Massachusetts, the program is modeled on the University of Michigan Health System.  Michigan also adopted a law in 2011 that allows health care providers to apologize and express compassion and commiseration without having to worry about their statements being admissible in court.

These “reforms” are more promising than medical malpractice damage caps and economic immunity.  By being honest with malpractice survivors and giving them a chance to be heard, many claims can be resolved quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction.

3 Comments

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  1. S Tenney says:
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    Working with physicians and their malpractice insurance coverage, I can say that sympathy and compassion is a part of the practice of medicine. The direction with MI Health System for physicians to apologize and express compassion is what doctors want. No one WANTS a bad outcome but the inability to express sorrow for a bad outcome allows our physicians to be seen as humans rather than cold machines. I think it’s a shift we need in medicine.

  2. edward volpintesta says:
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    January 22, 2015

    The Legal Examiner
    Re “Streamlined Medical Malpractice Resolution Gains Traction in Other States” by Attorney Mittleman; posted Jan. 21:
    Doctors are often overcome with guilt and remorse when their patients suffer a bad outcome even when the care they provided was very good. But, apologizing is the right and honorable thing to do, of course.
    But, consider the following.
    First, of all the harshness and the adversarial nature of malpractice litigation makes doctors shudder at the thought of having to undergo and endure the ordeal of a malpractice suit. For the process may take years to resolve during which doctors worry about the potential damage to their reputations and to their livelihoods. Some experience depression and severe anxiety.
    Moreover, often it is a distant relative who the doctor has never met who instigates a malpractice suit with inflammatory remarks about a doctor’s care or his qualifications.
    Clearly, apologizing has great merit to soothe the pain on both sides of a malpractice suit. But there are other factors that compromise this approach; and as, as filled as it is with great potential to lessen hostilities and wasted time, apologizing will be difficult for most doctors.
    Thus it is good news that this approach which was pioneered by the University of Michigan Health System is being applied in Massachusetts.
    Edward Volpintesta MD
    Bethel, CT 06801

  3. jc says:
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    Recently, Ohio passed H.B. 276, which also allows doctors to express sorrow at a bad outcome, without having the words used against them in court. I feel this is a significant step in the right direction. But another step needs to be taken. I think that patients should be required to visit the doctor and ask for an explanation of their “bad result” before they are allowed to pursue malpractice litigation. Many, many lawsuits could be stopped before they are filed if this became a law. Hey, if an auto mechanic works on my car and two weeks later, I am having the same problem with the car, I go back and talk with the mechanic. I don’t go running out to talk to a lawyer.