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Will a Disclosure of Medical Errors Along with an Apology Actually Lead To Fewer Lawsuits?

By Jack H. FarnbauchJune 28, 2017

It’s a fact that healthcare providers are reticent to admit errors to a patient or the patient’s family. Whether it’s because they do not actually believe an error has occurred or because they are trying avoid lawsuits and an increase in insurance premiums varies from case to case. The issue is whether a patient or the patient’s loved ones are more or less likely to sue if they receive an apology from the health care provider? The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is studying this issue and testing a strategy when it comes to disclosure of medical errors. 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality developed a strategy for hospitals and its Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) toolkit has been adapted in multiple hospitals across the country. The toolkit was built on a long-standing program at the University of Michigan (UM), which cut the number of malpractice lawsuits in half and saved about $2 million in litigation costs in the first year of the program, according to an article from The Washington Post published in partnership with Kaiser Health News.

Many hospitals fear that by telling the truth and owning up to a medical mistake may alert the patient that they have a viable lawsuit. Previous studies confirm that the vast majority of patients never find out they are the victim of a medical error. A landmark 1991 Harvard study found that only 2 percent of people harmed by errors ever file a malpractice lawsuit.

If you have concerns that you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, call our office now for a free consultation. There are time limits that govern medical malpractice claims so it’s important to obtain a consultation in a timely manner or your claim may be barred by the statute of limitations.  

You can read the Washington Post article here.