Many CIR members report that their training in medical malpractice issues is lacking, and few understand the policy of post-adverse event disclosure and apology, which is designed to address what the tort system fails to accomplish.
The medical malpractice system often does not provide timely and fair compensation for patients injured by medical malpractice; it negatively affects how healthcare is delivered and alienates physicians. Transparency and effective doctor-patient communications are key to addressing the flaws in the medical malpractice system and aligning it with the patient safety movement. CIR has a program of educating residents on the malpractice system and ways to address its flaws.
As part of CIR’s program, Chris Stern Hyman, JD spoke to residents at a CIR New York Regional Meeting in November 2010 about medical malpractice and how programs of Disclosure and Apology, in combination with Mediation, are beneficial. This video is taken from her presentation.
Chris Stern Hyman is a health care attorney and co-founder of the Medical Mediation Group, an organization devoted to dispute resolution in the healthcare community. She is an experienced mediator and author of multiple peer-reviewed articles and studies about alternate dispute resolution in the medical environment. For more information, visit Ms. Hyman’s website.
Can’t watch the video? Consider this a crash course in litigation versus disclosure and apology:
1. The tort system is broken. Medical malpractice litigation is not very good at achieving its goals of fair compensation for patients who are injured by medical error or deterring future malpractice.
2. Ineffective communication encourages lawsuits. Research shows that the factor that puts physicians at the most risk of being sued is not the quality of medical care or actual negligence, but ineffective communication with patients and their families, who will often sue to obtain “the truth” if they feel the hospital and doctors are being evasive and they are being denied information.
3. Mediation is affordable, efficient and supportive. Mediation, often paired with disclosure and apology, helps the patient and defendants achieve a fair financial outcome much faster and much less expensively than litigation, while providing an emotionally supportive element that is missing in litigation.
4. Disclosure improves health care. The model of disclosure, apology and early offer of fair compensation can be integrated into a system that encourages and makes use of reporting of errors, near misses, etc. This can help hospitals and physicians become better healthcare providers and more quickly identify and address patient safety problems that are caused by hospital systems, rather than by individual doctors.
5. Hospitals still practice a “culture of silence.” While many hospitals officially have disclosure and apology policies, fear of litigation continues to inhibit full and effective implementation of these policies.