SocraticGadfly: A better idea than Texas GOP ‘malpractice reform’ …

May 19, 2008

A better idea than Texas GOP ‘malpractice reform’ …

Would be a doctor saying “I’m sorry” to a victimized patient. BEFORE the case gets to court.

The University of Michigan Health System says its lawsuits have dropped by 2/3 since starting a full-disclosure policy. At the University of Illinois system, a 50 percent drop.
Advocates argue that the new disclosure policies may reduce legal claims but bring a greater measure of equity by offering reasonable compensation to every injured patient.

Recent studies have found that one of every 100 hospital patients suffers negligent treatment, and that as many as 98,000 die each year as a result. But studies also show that as few as 30 percent of medical errors are disclosed to patients.

In the case that centers this story, the doctor apologized. The patient, who had retained a lawyer, did not sue, and accepted a $74,000 judgment. That’s far less than a malpractice verdict might have awarded, not to mention expenses for lawyers on both sides and an increase in malpractice premiums for the doctor.

This sounds like a no-brainer.

Just one problem:
The policies seem to work best at hospitals that are self-insured and that employ most or all of their staffs, limiting the number of parties at the table. Such is the case at the Veterans Health Administration, which pioneered the practice in the late 1980s at its hospital in Lexington, Ky., and now requires the disclosure of all adverse events

And Texas, in one of the stupider state laws in a state full of them, does not let doctors be employed by hospitals.

Yes, you read that right. They’re all independent practitioners.

As for the legal status of an apology, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cosponsored a bill in 2005 to make apologies inadmissible in court. It died in committee. Gee, that was when … the GOP was in charge?

The story is a good read about how the “disclosure” movement has prompted other changes at many hospitals.

No comments: