Latest from Harvard Researcher on Disclosure for Medical Errors
Yesterday (Feb 13th) Harvard Researcher Michelle Mello, JD, PhD, wrote about the value of disclosure for patients/families for the Huffington Post. Michelle's column was in response to an anti-disclosure post written by prominent consumer advocate Joanne Doroshow. I am sharing this information with the Sorry Works! audience because while responding to Doroshow, I think Michelle did a great job summarizing the work of her research team, including their recent articles in Health Affairs. You'll want to know this stuff. Moreover, Michelle also nicely spelled out the challenges and hurdles we face in disclosure, most notably the need for disclosure training for front-line clinicians and the importance of compensating folks who have been injured by legitimate medical errors. The links for Michelle's post as well as Doroshow's post are below.
There was an issue Michelle alluded to in her article but I want to address it head-on: Entrenched interests. To get disclosure going at your hospital or insurer, you will need to eliminate entrenched interests. These folks need to go.
Here's what I'm talking about.....Joanne Doroshow is not just any consumer advocate...she is the "go to person" for the personal injury trial bar. Whenever there is a fight over tort reform, Joanne will be there and her hefty consulting fees will paid either by trial lawyer organizations or individual lawyers. To be blunt, Joanne is not that good and is constantly outclassed by the tort reformers, but she is always spoiling for a fight. Joanne gets paid to fight....just like the tort reformers get paid to fight. Disclosure is a dirty word to folks like Joanne, the tort reform community, and some elements of the defense bar and claims management world. The more fighting and fussing that is going on, the more $$ they make. Settle a case in two months? asks the befuddled defense lawyer. But, but, but...we have to do some depositions. And what about discovery? The more that consumers and clinicians suffer post-event, the more dough these entrenched interests rake in.
Try the following...contact your local or even national tort reform group and ask them for their position on disclosure. At best, they will say, "Dislosure is nice, but it really won't make a difference.....you need tort reform....you need US." At worst, they will start backpeddling, say disclosure is pro-plaintiff, etc, etc. The more tort reformers talk, the more you realize they actually know very little about med-mal. Ask yourself...are tort reformers really for doctors and hospitals, or are they just in it for the fight?
This is such an important message for folks contemplating disclosure. Internal and external entrenched interests will fight your disclosure efforts because they make money - lots of money - from the current med-mal system. And to be clear: While Joanne and some other consumer advocates don't like disclosure, individual trial lawyers and even trial lawyer groups are warm to disclosure. They really are. I always say to hospitals and insurers you are right to worry about the lawyers, but your biggest challenge may be with your own defense lawyers along with their buddies in the claims department. These are your internal entrenched interests. Personal injury lawyers tend to appreciate disclosure...we just need to get them to quit writing checks to Joanne Doroshow. Likewise hospitals and insurers need to quit writing checks to tort reform groups and also fire non-cooperative defense lawyers and claims managers. Entrenched interests peddle fear and create strife for one reason: Make $$$.
Here is the link for Michelle Mello's column: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-mello/medical-errors_b_4769554.html.
And here is the link for Joanne Doroshow's column: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanne-doroshow/patient-safety-takes-a-ba_b_4598745.html. Lastly, next Tuesday, Feb 18th is our next free webinar to preview our on-line disclosure learning courses. This is the economic and scalable way to teach disclosure to front-line docs and nurses. The webinar is at 1pm EST/10am PST this coming Tuesday. To register, simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Valentine's Day!