When Doctors Admit Mistakes, Fewer Malpractice Suits Result, Study Says
Side Note: this article reports on a new study that examined the merit of apologizing for errors in medicine. Its finding were consistent with previous research – admitting fault for a medical mistake, apologizing, and offering a fair settlement can help reduce legal costs and cut down on claims. Good communication with patients is an essential physician risk management tool, and this includes apologizing for a mistake. While apology can have beneficial effects on the malpractice system, it can not fix a broken system by itself. Equally important are legal reforms like changes in limits on pain and suffering and statutes of limitations.
by Jennifer Goodwin
TUESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) — When doctors make mistakes, admitting the error, saying “I’m sorry” and offering compensation may go a long way toward preventing malpractice lawsuits, new research shows.
In 2001, University of Michigan Health System launched a program encouraging health workers to report medical mistakes. The program included a procedure for telling patients and their families about errors; explaining who made the error, how it occurred and what steps were taken to prevent a similar mistake in the future; making a sincere apology to the patient or their family; and offering fair compensation for harm when at fault.