Friday, March 12, 2010

Michigan hospital reduces lawsuits by admitting mistakes

University of Michigan Hospital has reduced lawsuits by admitting mistakes.

Admitting mistakes reduces suits at Michigan hospital At the University of Michigan Health System, doctors and lawyers say admitting mistakes up front and offering compensation before being sued have brought about remarkable savings in money, time and feelings. "What we are doing is common decency," said Richard Boothman, a veteran malpractice defense lawyer and chief risk officer for a health system with 18,000 employees and a $1.5 billion annual budget.

The right of injured patients to sue health care providers and force them to open up their internal records is a crucial part of reducing medical mistakes and improving care, said Matthew Gaier, co-chairman of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association’s medical malpractice committee.

For “saying sorry” to work, doctors need protection from having their own honesty used against them in court, said Jim Copland, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy and an advocate of curbs on damage suits. Protection could take the form of a shield law that would exclude an apology from admission as evidence in a malpractice suit. A number of states have or are considering such laws.
“If you go out and say, ‘Oh, we messed up, are you going to lose the lawsuit? You need to give them some protection,” Copland said.

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