Sunday, November 16, 2014

“Deny and defend” has become an indefensible approach to medical error.

Please check out this excellent article by Bruce L. Lambert and Timothy B. McDonald.  Key excerpts:

In our research on communication and resolution approaches to malpractice, patients and families who have been victims of medical errors tell us that without hearing an explanation or apology, every hour that passes after the initial harm event feels like an additional injury.

Fortunately, there is now a viable alternative.

Several hospitals around the country, notably the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago, have adopted the so-called communication and resolution approach to unexpected patient harm.

This approach emphasizes rapid reporting of harm events, rapid communication with patients and families, and rapid investigations to identify possible system failures and to determine whether or not the patient was harmed by inappropriate care.

When an investigation reveals inappropriate care, the health professionals who were involved meet with the patient and family, admit liability, describe in detail what happened, apologize and offer emotional support, and maintain contact for ongoing communications.

Depending on the nature and severity of the harm, the hospital will often waive fees and charges related to the care that caused the harm, waive fees for subsequent care to remedy the harm, and offer financial settlements to compensate patients and families for pain and suffering and for the cost of ongoing care — all without litigation.

Research shows that communication and resolution programs have many benefits. Those include fewer claims and lawsuits, increased reporting of near misses and errors, more rapid settlements for patients, lower malpractice insurance costs, lower legal fees and expenses for hospitals, and less defensive medicine being practiced by physicians.

More importantly, telling the truth to patients after they have been harmed by medical errors is the right thing to do. It is more just, equitable, and humane.

It is better for providers too, who are often traumatized by unintentionally harming the people they were trying to heal, and who are prevented from apologizing, and even speaking, to patients and families.

“Deny and defend” has become an indefensible approach to medical error. The time has come to abandon it.


Unknown said...

great video on the subject

Paul Levy said...


June Gardner said...

I know all about the corrupt system denying and defending.

Patient Monitoring Advocate said...

I really appreciate this article.It was simple, yet powerful and to the point. It reaches the heart of putting an end to medical errors. It won't happen overnight, but it won't happen at all if we as the survivors of the victims don't speak up and speak out. It seems so simple to implement, yet most run from it. We still have to try. If it's working for some hospitals, then perhaps others will jump on board. It's never too late. Please help save a life...