New England News
4:51 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Massachusetts Health Groups Explore New Liability Model

The alliance of six health care organizations has released their Roadmap to Reform, which would improve upon the state’s current protections for patients and doctors by increasing transparency and communication in managing malpractice situations.

In 2010, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center received a federal grant from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality to plan and examine disclosure, apology, and offer programs. Dr. Alan Woodward, consultant and former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, the organization that is leading the coalition for reform, says that Disclosure, Apology & Offer programs act an as an alternative to the current medical liability system.

Dr. Woodward explained that defensive medicine is practice from physicians that is motivated from fear of liability, rather than what’s right for the patient. Over-corrective medicine and unnecessary testing in the current system drive up medical costs.

Seven hospitals have been chosen by the coalition to explore liability reforms by implementing a Disclosure, Apology & Offer model, including three from Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Kenneth Sands from BIDMC said that the new model hopes to greatly improve how physicians and patients communicate in the event of malpractice.

Advocates say the DA&O model would lead to faster reporting and resolution of medical errors. Dr. Kenneth Sands says the model would not deny patients the right to address malpractice through the courts, but hopes to resolve issues progressively.

Currently the method has been tested in the University of Michigan Health Care System. Efforts will be undertaken by the coalition to educate the public on the model. The Roadmap to Reform plan is being supported by large health insurers in the state. State legislators have been made aware of the issue but no legislation has been yet been filed to implement the model statewide.

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