Newswise — The May 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contains an article by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) about the urgent need for medical malpractice reform that serves the needs of both patients and health care providers.
In the article, the senators - - who have jointly sponsored a reform bill - - praise the University of Michigan Health System for its approach to malpractice suits and medical errors.
That approach, which is based on open acknowledgement, apologies and compensation for errors; aggressive defense in cases that we believe have no merit; and learning from situations that led to malpractice suits, has helped transform the malpractice and patient safety climate at UMHS.
As the Clinton/Obama article says:
"Before August 2001, the organization had approximately 260 claims and lawsuits pending at any given time. As of August 2005, the number had dropped to 114. The average time from the filing of a claim to its resolution was reduced from approximately 21 months to less than 10 months. Annual litigation costs dropped from about $3 million to $1 million. The health care system has begun to reinvest these savings in the automation of its patient-safety reporting systems. Since the implementation of this program, the University of Michigan Health System has expanded the number of practicing clinicians and faculty members in high-risk fields such as obstetrics-gynecology and neurosurgery."
Further information on the UMHS approach is available at http://www.med.umich.edu/news under the Hot Topics heading. Interviews are also available, with Richard Boothman, J.D., Chief Risk Officer for UMHS and a leader in the implementation of this approach. Mr. Boothman also recorded an interview with NEJM staff about the approach, which is available before the embargo to media via the NEJM media site and after the embargo to all at http://www.nejm.org.