Saturday, December 18, 2004
Contrary to the teachings of a generation of trial attorneys, apologizing for medical errors may reduce claims. If the University of Michigan's experience is a guide, it also reduces the time that elapses between the opening and closing of a malpractice claims file, presumably reducing costs along the way. And it can be good for the soul of the institution and the provider whose mistake caused harm to a patient.
Today's Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR broadcast an interesting discussion of these issues between host Scott Simon and Rick Boothman, a trial attorney for the University of Michigan. The audio file will be available by 1:00 p.m. EST today.
We earlier posted a comment (Nov. 30) about a Washington Post story that examined a Maryland proposal that would make apologies by health care providers inadmissible at trial. In today's interview, Boothman said U of M seeks no waivers or releases in connection with their apologies. If we've made a mistake and caused harm, he said, we should be about getting right with the patient, not trying to beat a liability claim, although U of M's experience seems to be that unconditional apologies do reduce the incidence and severity of malpractice claims. [tm]