Hospitals Communicate With Patients Thanks To Litigation

Hospitals Communicate With Patients Thanks To Litigation

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 20-May-2013

An article in The New York Times, by Joanna C. Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Law – Hospitals are becoming more open and transparent with patients in response to litigation.

Schwartz surveyed over 400 people responsible for hospital risk management, claims management and quality improvement in health care centers around the country. The survey confirmed that while hospitals historically took an “adversarial and secretive” approach to lawsuits and error, over 80% of hospitals now have a policy of apologizing to patients when errors occur.

“Several factors appear to have overcome historical resistance to transparency, including widespread laws requiring disclosure to patients and confidentiality protections for internal discussions of error. Hospitals have also found that disclosing book errors to patients and offering early settlements reduces the cost and frequency of litigation.” Writes SchwartzFurthermore, the study shows that, over 95% of hospitals integrate information from lawsuits into patient safety efforts. Risk managers and patient-safety personnel overwhelmingly report that lawsuit data have proved useful in efforts to identify and address errors.

“Litigation discovery can unearth useful details about safety and quality concerns. Analyses of claim trends can reveal problematic procedures and departments, and closed litigation files can serve as rich teaching tools.”

“The Affordable Care Act pours billions into patient safety for research centers, demonstration projects and other programs. Proposed reforms and initiatives should not rely on conventional wisdom about negative effects of malpractice litigation. Medical malpractice lawsuits do not have the harmful effects on patients safety that they are imagined to have.”

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