On August 6, 2012, Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, signed a new healthcare cost control bill to assist in resolving medical malpractice cases and reducing malpractice costs.
The “Disclosure, Apology, Offer” approach requires health care providers and their insurers to not only disclose adverse outcomes to patients, but also to investigate and explain what exactly went wrong. The health care providers must then establish systems that would prevent the error from occurring again. Most importantly, the approach requires the health care providers to apologize to the victim and/or his family AND offer “fair” financial compensation before any legal action is taken.
The process begins when the malpractice occurs and the health care provider then has six months, or a “cooling-off period,” to make full disclosure and apologize, where appropriate. The victim and physician must go through the cooling-off period before taking the case to trial. The apologies by providers would be inadmissible in court. Importantly, the victim does have the right to consult an attorney in making their decision on whether to accept a financial offer during the six-month period or to pursue litigation.
The law hopes to reduce costs and both physician groups and attorney groups say they are satisfied with this new law. Proponents of the law say that a lack of transparency and honesty often times will keep patients from receiving the explanation they deserve and ultimately the financial award for their loss. But what do the victims and their families think about this process? It will be interesting to see how the process actually plays out and whether the doctors end up offering “fair” compensation to the victims and their families.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.