Blog | Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Apologizing for errors halves malpractice suits

University of Michigan Health System reports that admitting medical errors and offering compensation before being sued resulted in malpractice claims falling from 121 in 2001 to 61 in 2006, with corresponding savings in costs per claim.

The Associated Press profiled the hospital system's efforts not only as a business decision but also an ethical one that benefits patients, while not exposing the system to further litigation.

Apologies aren't easy, but ACP's news publications have offered advice to make them easier:
--"Internist searches for answers when test results go missing," ACP Internist, April 2009.
--"Apologize like a pro," ACP Hospitalist, January 2008.
--"To err is human ... to not plan for it is trouble," ACP Hospitalist, December 2008.
--"Owning up to a mistake takes courage--and practice," ACP Internist, April 2009.

Also, Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the state-by-state efforts to implement shield laws for physicians who disclose errors.