Despite fears of ballooning numbers of malpractice suits, the University of Michigan Health System's full-disclosure and compensation program for medical errors has coincided with fewer claims and lower liability costs, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Legal costs fall after disclosure policy: system
Researchers examined data from 1995 to 2007—UMHS instituted their full disclosure policy in 2001—and noted decreases in the average monthly rate of new compensation claims, the average monthly rate of lawsuits and in the average monthly liability costs after the protocols were implemented.
The authors acknowledged that those decreases may not have been the direct result of the health system's claims management program. But, they said, the 61% drop in legal defense spending by UMHS in the period after the policy was put in place suggests that patients respond favorably to prompt disclosure of errors.
“This shows that over time, hospitals can afford to do the right thing,” said Richard Boothman, UMHS' chief risk officer, in a news release. “It demonstrates what we have believed to be true for some time: The sky won't fall in by pursuing a pro-active and honest approach to medical mistakes.”
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