Massachusetts Study Shows Disclosure Does NOT Increase Lawsuits or Settlement Amounts
A recent study led by Michelle Mello, JD/PhD and published in Health Affairs shows that disclosure did not increase litigation or settlement amounts in six (6) Massachusetts hospitals that actively practiced disclosure. The average payout for claims was a modest $75,000 versus the national average of $225,000. Moreover, Mello and her research team believe the biggest benefit from the program was avoidance of litigation with adverse events not caused by medical error. Talking with families in a pro-active manner post-event --- as opposed to running away, looking guilty -- gave people the information they needed to accept the outcome. However, an important in the article is that hospitals must be willing to pro-actively offer compensation when adverse events were caused by medical errors. Moreover, the study indicated that communication with clinicians about the disclosure process is also important for success.
This is another important study for the disclosure movement. How often have we heard some version of the following request or question: "Well, show me a study about disclosure." Well, here you go.
I think it is important to note that the authors clearly state that upfront compensation is important as is communicating/training staff about disclosure. As we have said all along at Sorry Works!...."sorry" without upfront compensation for known medical errors is just talk that will lead to litigation. And you have to train your staff, and keep training them. All of this speaks to the development of a disclosure program.
The development and continued success of your disclosure program is covered in the Sorry Works! Tool Kit Book. The Tool Kit is great for leadership and covers everything you need to know about disclosure.
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder, Sorry Works!