The medical record rarely tells the full story in a medical malpractice case. It often seems as though the healthcare team has forgotten the purpose of the medical record and is intent on hiding as many of the real events as possible. Some providers go out of their way to blatantly lie about an incident. In many cases, the electronic medical record and its limitations even encourages this practice. No wonder patients who are harmed from a hospital stay (considering that 20% of every patient suffers a preventable harm, there’s plenty of them) view litigation as their only recourse. Their own medical record is unlikely to spell out the truth of what really happened.
Now a more open and contemporary style of communicating medical error disclosure is emerging and may actually help to reduce lawsuits rather than increase them. It takes a lot of guts to tell a patient that an error has occurred, to extend an apology and to make an offer of compensation. Timely identifying when deviations from the standard of care have harmed a patient coupled with a “disclosure and offer” policy is proving to be a more cost-effective way to reach satisfying resolutions.
Facilities who implement a “disclosure and offer” strategy are reporting a reduction in lawsuits, improvements in patient safety and are ultimately saving money.
I’ve always said a lot of medical malpractice lawsuits can be prevented by a simple “I’m sorry”, and finally there’s data to back me up.
I’m just sayin’
P.S. Comment and share if your hospital implements a “disclosure and offer” strategy and how patients are responding to it.