Physicians’ and attorneys’ groups in Massachusetts have formed a partnership that has led to reforms to the medical liability system. These reforms allow for the resolution of medical malpractice cases in ways that benefit patients by reducing the number of long and unnecessary lawsuits while at the same time improving safety for patients. Disclosure, apology, and offer model is the result of these reforms.
This model is when unanticipated adverse outcomes are disclosed to patients and families by healthcare professionals and institutions and the outcome is investigated and explained. After this, systems to prevent the incidents from recurring and to improve patient safety are implemented. In addition, if it is appropriate, healthcare professionals and institutions apologize and offer fair financial compensation. Therefore the patient will not have to take legal action. Victims of medical errors who under the previous system would have been delayed or denied compensation due to lack of transparency will be more likely to receive compensation.
Massachusetts is the first state in the United States to have legislation enabling this type of program to try to help resolve medical malpractice cases. Under this legislation there will be a six month “cooling-off” period prior to litigation so that the parties have time to go through the disclosure, apology, and offer process. Also during this period the parties will share all pertinent medical records by the patient, providers will give full disclosure, and to make the statements of apology by providers inadmissible in court. Additionally, patients retain the right to consult with an attorney so they can be advised of their rights and so they can evaluate whether the offer that was made is fair or if they should bring legal action.
This full disclosure of medical errors will hopefully lead to better results for patients than the traditional route of litigation and / or settlement to obtain compensation for injuries. It may also lead to learning of what lead to the medical errors that are the cause of injuries and deaths which would be beneficial in reducing the likelihood of errors in the future.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also 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.