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Failure to effectively reduce, address medical errors can lead to litigation, P.1

A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer highlighted a topic that should concern all of us: errors in health care. As the article pointed out, progress in reducing the number of medical errors has been painfully slow. Part of the reason for that is that there is a lack of broad consensus as to how measure progress.

The lack of progress can also be partially blamed on the failure of health care systems to implement models of care which aim to engage and empower patients. It is well known that getting patients more involved in their own care can help improve the delivery of care, and that better communication between providers and patients can increase patient satisfaction.

There are different models for helping patients to become more engaged in their care and for dealing with medical errors when they do occur. One well known approach in the later area is the one used by the University of Michigan Health System, which is sometimes called the “Michigan Model.”

At the core of the model is a proactive approach to medical errors, near misses and malpractice claims which emphasizes effective communication, full disclosure and learning from mistakes. The approach has been credited with bringing about a decrease in malpractice claims and claim costs for the health system, as well as reducing malpractice expenses and the time it takes to handle a claim. All of this is extremely valuable, both for patients and the health system. Medical malpractice litigation is expensive, and it isn’t always the best option for resolving disputes stemming from medical errors. When a health system is able to provide an alternative means for resolving disputes, it can have a beneficial impact.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, as well as the importance of working with an experienced attorney when pursuing medical malpractice litigation.

Sources:

Philly.com, “Medical errors remain all too common—and deadly,” Maryanne McGuckin, Dec. 29, 2015.

University of Michigan Health System, “The Michigan Model: Medical Malpractice and Patient Safety at UMHS,” Accessed Dec. 30, 2015.

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