Hospitals promise apologies

It is ethically right for doctors to report their medical mistakes, but they are often hesitant to do so in fear of lawsuits. Instead, they practice “defensive medicine” by performing many unnecessary tests on a patient in order to prove everything possible was done in the event of any legal battles. Now, a Massachusetts coalition is trying to enforce a mandatory six-month “cooling-off” period following any major incidences, before any patient can file a lawsuit.

As a result of the newly implemented “Roadmap to Reform” initiative, nurses and doctors in Massachusetts are now being asked to fully disclose any medical mistakes they have made on the job and apologize to their patients. Seven Massachusetts hospitals plan to give apologies to any patient harmed by medical errors in order to decrease the amount of lawsuits filed, cut down on health care costs, and reduce the amount of distrust between caregivers and patients. A $1 million donation has been made by three large insurance companies and a medical group to get the plan underway in hopes to make improvements statewide. A similar initiative used 10 years ago by the University of Michigan Health System cut the number of lawsuits per month in half and the spending on legal defense by 60%, according to a 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Some attorneys are skeptical, but are open to possibly having earlier resolutions on their cases.